Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Older and Wiser

A friend recently asked if I have any friends who are younger than me. I took her question's subtext to mean whether I had any friends who weren't over 60. Funny, and for the record, the answer is yes. But, the truth of the matter is that I have quite a few close friends who are, in fact, over 60. Friendships happen for all kinds of reasons and I don't walk through life actively seeking friends, young, old or in between. But, I do often become friends with women older than me and this has always been the case.
One of my dearest friends is in her 70s. We became friends when we both worked at Eaton's. She took a risk one day and asked me whether I wanted to have dinner. I say risk, because extending an invitation to someone beyond the "circle" where you met is scary and could lead to rejection. Anyway, I accepted and we went out for dinner and it was great! I think she may be the only person who fully understands my dark, sarcastic side...who reads as much as me and who has an opinion on fixing the world which is close to mine. Obviously, she's a genius, lol.
One of my newest friends is from choir. Call it luck or providence or fate, but my spot in the soprano section ended up being next to her. She is funny and real and there is no pretense there. There is also no drama. I can be myself and say what I think. That's another thing about older women, they aren't shocked by what my unfiltered self blurts out. Or if they are, it doesn't phase them, lol. The stereotype of older ladies is the disapproving granny with the wagging finger. But, I actually find that to be more true of my peers. Oh, you don't feed your kids organic food? What, no swimming lessons? You let your kids play video games? You don't record every second of their music performance on your phone? Do you even love your kids??? Older women are much more big picture people. My choir friend has messaged me more than once about what a good mom I am. That's so much more encouraging and helpful than all the judgement from my peers.
Another close friend I met through church. This time I was the risk taker and invited her and her husband over for tea one evening. It wasn't risky in that I didn't think they'd say no, but it's not common for young couples to invite old couples to their house for tea. It seems a little weird. Like what could we possibly have in common? Anyway, they came over and it was a lovely visit. The wife and I became very good friends and she is one of the wisest women I know and not for the reasons you might think. She told me hilarious stories about herself and how she used to take things so seriously and some of the mistakes she had made. I'd like to think that I learned a lot from her.
And this brings me to one of the reasons that I tend to gravitate toward older ladies. They seem to have a much better perspective on life. They don't get tied up in knots over the little things because through experience, they understand what matters. One of my favourite authors has said, "Elderly woman know everything there is to know about everything there is to know." I don't think that that is quite true, but it's sure truer for someone who's 60 than for someone who is 20.
But, I think the biggest reason that I have lots of older friends is that they live wide open. This is not true of all older people, but it is of the ones that are my friends. They aren't out to prove anything, they aren't overly sensitive, they don't get hung up on small things. They embrace the ordinary and enjoy life for the fleeting breath that it is.

"When I die, I want to be wide open,
I don't want to be tight-fisted,
holding on to grudges or regrets.
I don't want to have my back up because I'm
still
defending the wall I've built
and the trenches I've dug and the
invisible
lines I've drawn.
When I die, I want to go wide open."   ~Deidra Riggs

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Are you trying to drift your way to holiness?


I have come to a startling conclusion: wanting to get closer to Jesus is not enough. The desire itself is noble and one that is hopefully shared by all believers, but it doesn’t actually produce a closer walk with Jesus. Growth does not happen by accident, osmosis or magic; it is hard work.

I don’t know how many years I spent wanting to grow in my faith without really praying or reading the Bible regularly. Now that I think back, it sounds ridiculous. But there I was not reading my Bible, not really praying, filling my time and my mind with “other” things and yet thinking that somehow by magic each year would bring me closer to Jesus. I think that I thought that I could “drift my way to holiness” like one preacher put it. I didn’t.
For four years now I have attended a weekly in-depth Bible study. It has involved daily homework and weekly lectures and discussions. I have learned a lot and I have prayed more than ever before. I feel like there has been real growth in my life. But it hasn’t been easy. Praying and studying the Bible require effort. In the past, I admit that I have sometimes thought that “prayer warrior types” are specially gifted from God to pray. And in some ways, they probably are, but they still need to put aside time to actually pray; that requires sacrifice.

Yes, we need grace and it’s all grace, even the growth that may occur in my life. However, even though “grace is opposed to earning, it is not opposed to effort” (Dallas Willard). I can’t earn my way to heaven, but I do need to put in the time and the effort to grow.


Monday, March 26, 2018

BOOKS!!




I am a total book nerd. I love reading! I read all kinds of fiction and non-fiction, fluff and serious books. What really gets me excited though, is a book that is well-written, in that the author has a beautiful way with words. I've read some engrossing books where the story has been worth reading, but the writing itself has been pretty awful. This is too often the case with YA fiction, which I do read sometimes.
Anyway, right now I am reading a book called Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk. I love it for its story, but also for the author's mastery of language. I laughed out loud on the weekend as I was reading and came across these gems:
"Extending hospitality to all, even to the most cloddish, truly is the basis of civilization. The fact that the most cloddish, having nothing better to do, always show up and spoil the party for everyone else probably spells civilization's ultimate doom."
"Among the many unsurprising facts of life that, when taken in aggregate, ultimately spell out the doom of our species is this: People who command respect are never as widely known as people who command attention."

Monday, March 19, 2018

Teaching

I am a teacher. I have been teaching on and off between maternity leaves since 2001. I love teaching and I love watching kids get excited about learning. I only have a permanent job on Wednesdays and the rest of the week, I either teach on call, or stay home/chauffeur/volunteer/cook/clean etc. My Wednesday class is a job share, so there is another teacher there for four days a week. This makes it challenging to have any kind of cohesive program, but it is working really well, for now. There have been so many Wednesdays where I have had those "this is why I teach" moments; I love my job.
Teaching on call, for the first time in years, has been interesting and eye-opening. First of all, there are lots of great ideas about how different classrooms are run and I love getting to borrow lots of new ideas. I am constantly standing in hallways taking pictures of great bulletin board ideas. But there are also classrooms that make me sad. I have been in some classrooms where it is clear that there is no fun being had. The day plan consists of piles of worksheets, there is no student art brightening the classroom and no games, manipulatives, cards, dice or anything that would allow for free play. I know how laborious it can be to plan for a teacher on call, so I am sure that some of the worksheets can be chalked up to easier and more straightforward plans for a TOC. Regardless, when I look around a room and see nothing besides more worksheets, I wonder. What is it like to be in grade 1 and have no fun at school? What would make a child in that kind of class excited to learn? With the readymade exciting lessons available at the click of a button, with all the fantastic picture books that beautifully illustrate social responsibility and other great themes, with beautiful BC right outside the school, why is there still boring, repetitive, meaningless work being done in some classrooms?

PS. I try to go outside with my students as much as possible. Last week, we were studying Emily Carr, so we went outside to sketch trees. When it's gross outside, we get creative by doing things like indoor camping day...


Friday, March 16, 2018

West Palm Beach



I just spent six days alone, on a trip to Florida and it was glorious. My parents bought a condo in the fall and completely renovated it during the last few months. We had originally planned to go as a family, but the tickets during spring break were just ridiculous. So, I decided to fly out while school was still in session by myself. Kudos to Pentti who is so generous in letting me get away. He was the one who insisted I go alone, despite the fact that that meant him staying home alone with three kids and even taking time off work.
The trip was wonderful in every way. My mom did all the cooking; I haven't been that pampered/served by her in 20 years. Their condo was beautiful and had two swimming pools, a sauna, library, gym and a whole community of Finnish people. I think every person that I met in their complex was Finnish; it was pretty funny. In the evenings, the sauna was unsurprisingly full of Finnish ladies and it was neat to hear the Finnish chatter. The shopping was fantastic. I didn't actually end up buying very much, but there were so many great stores and outlets!
Coming home, I felt so grateful and refreshed and I am still basking in how great the trip was. It is so healthy to get away and have some time to myself. I feel like I am a better person since my trip and I would wish for every mom to have the chance to get away sometimes. Too bad not all husbands are like Pentti...

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Christmas Vacation

We had a gloriously long Christmas break that ended today. It's funny how each year, the break is the same amount of time and yet some years it feels too short and other years it feels wonderfully long. I think it may depend on where Christmas falls; if it's at the beginning, then you have more time to chill and loaf around afterwards.
We had a very busy few days around Christmas with family stuff, church stuff and choir stuff. But then things calmed down. We actually went out for New Year's which we have not done for many years. Now that Matias is old enough to babysit, we have more flexibility. It's always a bit nerve wracking to leave the kids home alone, but with cell phones and good neighbours, it's pretty safe. Anyway, my friend Mehj was housesitting and hosted a party with about 10 people. It was great fun. There was dinner and dessert and lots of cheese. If you can't have brie at Christmas, then when can you? Despite the fun, we didn't actually last until midnight, but whatever. It's not like it's 1999, lol.
Pentti went to work for a few days after New Year, but then took some more time off and we headed to Hope. No one else was at the house, so the 5 of us had the place to ourselves for 4 days. There was a tonne of snow and it stayed dry for the most part, despite the forecast. The kids spent hours and hours outside building a fort, sledding and just playing in the snow. It was great. The neighbour across the street who has a big sloping yard, built a sledding track and told us to come over. What a nice guy. I feel like that wouldn't happen in the "big city", but maybe I just hang around the wrong people?!
Of course we also went in the sauna and the boys and Pentti even rolled in the snow afterwards (as per crazy Finnish tradition). I am not insane, so I did not. We went to the used bookstore and out for Japanese food, all the things that we do every time we're in Hope. It was the perfect end to the holiday and because it came right before school started, the vacation felt that much longer after having "gone away".
PS. This year Emmi figured out that the elf on the shelf is fake. Thank goodness; that thing was the bane of my existence! But for now, Santa is still real :)


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Reads of 2017



Anyone who knows me at all, knows that I love to read. A lot. Immersing myself in a good book, rates a lot higher in my world than a lot of other (more social) things. (Why yes, I am an introvert; thanks for asking).
I remember my love of books being cultivated by my elementary school librarian. Mrs Linke was a pudgy, older lady with short gray hair, who pulled her pants up to her armpits; I kid you not. But she was a lovely woman and she introduced me to many new series. I spent countless hours in that school library. Anyway, I am always excited to discover a new author and I made one of my greatest "finds" this year when I happened upon Louise Penny. I picked up her latest book at the library and loved it. What a thrill to discover that it was part of a series of thirteen! To discover not only a good book, but a book that is part of a larger series is a goldmine, a reader's dream. So...I have read all of her books this year, besides the latest one. Did I mention that she's Canadian and writes about a quaint little town in Quebec? 
I also discovered two other authors that I really enjoyed this year and I have read 23 books and counting, so it was been a great year for this bibliophile.
Here's my list of books for 2017:

-Liturgy of the Ordinary
-Grace Not Perfection
-Barefoot
-Two Steps Forward
-Sensible Shoes
-An Altar in the World
-A Great Reckoning
-You are Free
-Still Life
-Chasing Slow
-A Brutal Telling
-If Not For You
-Bury Your Dead
-A Fatal Grace
-Murder stone
-The Beautiful Mystery
-A Trick of the Light
-The Cruellest Month
-How the Light Gets In
-Of Mess and Moxie
-Long Way Home
-Braving the Wilderness
-Nature of the Beast
-The Life She Was Given