January 26, 2010

The Art of Life

The theme as of late seems to keep coming back to inspiration and how we all vary when it comes to what it takes to stir a passion in us. Today I’m thinking about art. Perhaps because I have a fabulous new calendar with various art pictures for each month. Yes. I did cheat and look through the entire calendar, but already I can’t remember what February’s picture is – and I’m counting down the days ‘til I get to see it again.

Side note: I love surprises. Rarely do they occur for me. Not because I figure them out (even if I suspected something, I wouldn’t allow myself to come up with theories). I assume it’s because my face screams “trustworthy secret keeper” – I’m always the one that finds out about a surprise coming because the person planning it needs to share with at least one person. So....for me...surprises, when they do happen, make my day!!!

Side note rant over. Back to art.

Another reason why it’s on my mind today is because I recently created an iGoogle page (highly recommend) and one of the aps I chose was “Art of the Day”. I keep being reminded of these artists that I learned about in university: Jean-Honore Fragonard, Joy Garnett, J.M.W. Turner. I remember I took Fine Arts with Becky (my sister) when I was at Trinity, and one of our assignments was to go to an art gallery, find a painting, and sit in front of it. I remember us laughing about how ridiculous an assignment it was. We found a gallery downtown Vancouver. It was really, really small. The walls were white. The air was cold. I remember wandering around for a bit, trying to find my painting of choice – you can’t sit in front of just ANY painting for 20 minutes. Then I rounded a corner. There it was. I couldn’t tell you who it was that painted it. But it was bright yellow and orange. You could clearly see the brush strokes. I sat down on the window ledge. I stood in front of it. I stood at an angle. I’d never looked at art like that before. Suddenly that assignment didn’t seem so mundane. I love how much art is about perspective – your own, the artists, the angle. Life is about perspective too! I’m learning this. There’s always a different viewpoint, another approach. Yet another God lesson. Many a lessons to learn when you’re walking in LG’s shoes!

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle” – Albert Einstein
January 25, 2010

Things that make you go “hmm”

You can’t help but wonder when...

...someone comes out of the bathroom whistling
...an unsavy individual compliments your outfit
...flames ensue during a routine fire safety regulation seminar
..name brand popcorn pops worse than no-name
...people drink Tim Horton’s coffee instead of Starbucks

My absolutely fabulous co-worker, Julie, makes me smile. These are a couple of thoughts that she ran by me this morning. Can I just say there is nothing like a hilarious statement to start your week off! What a breath of fresh air! So the beginning of this post is a shout out to her!

I love God moments. I love it when he surprises me by encouraging me. Sometimes it’s through other people. Sometimes it’s through things I read. Sometimes it’s just a sense of his presence. I love that.

As you might know, I was supposed to go on a missions trip this past fall to the Ukraine. A series of events occurred, and well, that door closed. And I felt sad. There’s really no other word to describe it. Just sad. I was excited to finally get a chance to serve in a country that needed to see God’s tangible love. I was excited to encourage orphaned kids. I was excited for the opportunity to be used by God. And you can’t help but feel like a failure when something like that falls apart – even if the circumstances are out of your control. So since then, I’ve been looking for opportunities where I am, or for the future. I posted recently about how I was thinking about an addictions program and trying to figure out if that would be a route to take. I have since found something more specific to my interests.

In recent years, I have developed a desire to work with young teen girls who are struggling with eating disorders. I’ve seen firsthand the impact it can have – both on the individual and on the family and friends. I loathe the way our society instills in young girls that they are worth more if they are thinner. I discovered last week that a local college offers a degree upgrade course specifically on eating disorders – treatment plans, nutrition, diagnosis. I couldn’t believe how the specifics of this course are aligned perfectly with my interests. God moment? I think so. The job I’m in right now – I love the organization, I love the people, I even love what I’m doing sometimes (haha)...but administrative stuff is not my passion...people are! And I know God has me where I am for a reason, but having this course brought to my attention was like God was reminding me that he knows about my passions, and that I can still pursue them!

And so, I am. I’ve gathered information. I’ve dusted off old text books. And I’m saving now. Maybe this summer I’ll be able to take it. It’s nice to have something to look forward to. It’s nice to know my future is in God’s hands – and it was SO nice to see a slight glimpse of it! I took a step back - and it looks like I got to see just a little bit more of my mural!

“When it comes to the future, there are three kinds of people: those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened” – John M. Richardson, Jr.

PS I’m the kind that makes it happen! God gives you a dream – pursue it with all your heart! :)
January 22, 2010

Lunch time happenings

It has become a recent tradition for me to evacuate the dance floor – wait, no...that would be a Cascada song. Not possible to evacuate a dance floor am I right?! Definitely necessary to evacuate the work premises during lunch hour though.

There’s something about getting out in the fresh air, roaming about a grocery store, basically anything to clear the head before returning to work. It’s a healthy tradition I think. I drag my partner in crime along with me for the ride. Sometimes we do work related errands (on our lunch break – I know...that’s how dedicated we are to our jobs!!). We frequently find ourselves occupying the floors of Chaps. Magazines beckon us. Mundane reading. We stare at computer screens long enough during the day to really appreciate the feel of paper between our hands. Shiny paper. Yes. Trees died. We know. And for that, we are thankful because in their own way they brought us back some sanity – even just for a moment. To make it up to them we buy no bags for our groceries and instead carry them all by hand. Just our small way of saying we care about the environment!

And now, I find myself at the mid-afternoon marker. Friday night. Almost time to go home. Weekends excite me. You get to sleep in. You get to clean or bake. You get to hang with friends. If you’re me, you stay up way later than you would on weekdays. I’m just glad that when the whole “work week” thing was established, someone had brains enough to include a weekend. Those of you who work seven days straight are a) crazy and b) my heroes cause I know I’d never survive. One summer I worked at a bottle factory (oh what fun!), and four 12 hour shifts a week was enough to make me thankful for a 40 hour week. Actually, I think I was meant to be a permanent part-timer. Meant to live somewhere warm. Meant to work part-time. Heck, I’d even just volunteer if I didn’t have to pay bills. Someday. Sigh. Someday.

Well these random Friday afternoon thoughts were brought to you by slight boredom. Enjoy. And relish in the fact that it’s the weekend. I know I will be!

“Always strive to excel, but only on weekends” ~Richard Rorty
January 21, 2010

The Simple Joys in Life

Free music.
Daily compliments (that’s to you Julie!).
Random acts of kindness.
People – I could people watch all day.
Homemade aprons (thanks Annie!).
Cheap gas.
Free samples.
The ocean.
God moments.
Pink pens.
Snail mail.
Rock climbing.
Funky kitchen gadgets.
Post it notes.
Baked Cheesies.
Text messages.
Envelope openers.
Lip gloss.
New toothbrushes.
Surprise birthday parties.
Freshly washed sheets.
New pair of socks.
Girls night out.
Reading by the fireplace.
Road trips.
Scrap paper.
Soft Kleenex.
Splashing in puddles.
Paper airplanes.
The many uses of duct tape.

“We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do” – Mother Teresa
January 20, 2010

Self Control

I work in an office. I think I established that already in past posts, but in case you’re reading for the first time, now you know. With an office job, especially when you’re an assistant, comes the somewhat unspoken role of candy provider. Now in recent days, I have been educated on the necessity of having an additional trait that distinguishes you from the rest of the employees you work with (thank you “How I Met Your Mother” for enlightening me on this important matter). You have your “Paper guy” and your “Creepy guy” and your “energetic/talkative girl” ---- the real issue lies in picking your own trait and making sure it’s one that makes you indispensable.

Candy dishes lay scattered around at Focus. My desk is one of at least five places in the office where you can fill your craving needs. I decided early on that I wanted to be “classy/gourmet candy girl”. Forget the cheapo Costco stuff. Forget mints your grandma gave you ions ago. Think Purdy’s chocolates. Think truffles. These are the types of sweets that grace my counter space. It brings a smile to my face seeing the expressions of passerby’s when they realize the luxury that is before them. I love how these individuals attempt to ignore the candy in front of them as they endeavour to finish – or begin – a conversation with me. They know why they are there. I know why they are there. The tension and fake conversation is almost unbearable. But it still makes me smile – on the inside of course – and I let them endure it until they are brave enough to just reach for that truffle.

I must admit though, that while my ambitions were high, I failed to connect the expenses that would accrue. This is especially true considering the vultures that appear from time to time. You know who you are. The vultures are those that come by when I’m not there, sneaking numerous chocolates – knowing if I had been there I would have given them the evil “you take only one or else” glare. There’s no way to prevent the vultures. There’s no cure for the vulture. It’s a harsh reality that us candy dish owners have to come to terms with.

And so, I press on, venturing to maintain my newly established title. I fill my dish with candies in hopes that some low blood sugar individual will stumble upon it and find their life forever changed.

“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending” – Carl Bard
January 18, 2010

I Raise My Glass to You, Marjorie!

Mondays. The “pit” of the week. The hardest day to write a blog by far! The creative juices are stilted because most of my brains energy is being used up to dwell on the weekend – and how I wish it was still Saturday. I envy those (you know who you are) with the flexibility to sleep in on Mondays. One good thing – many holidays fall on a Monday. Oh how this brings joy to my life!

In other, extremely unrelated news, I’m happy to inform you – the whole world – that I’m becoming quite the little chef. To my astonishing surprise, my Christmas stocking beheld a Chapters gift card. Lo and behold, I was able to find a Betty Crocker cookbook to spend that plastic money on. What a find! Not only does it inform me on entertaining basics, but the recipes that are held within its shiny pages are delectable, and effortless.

We are having a bake sale at work to raise money for Haiti, and I volunteered to bring some baked goods in. While I relish in the idea of helping people in Haiti, it was also a perfect excuse to try out a recipe from my new cookbook. The recipe selected? Lemon Squares. Apparently these are difficult to make. My mom informed me that even with the greatest of recipes, they usually only turn out 1 in 3 times. Well let me tell you ladies (and men, if you care) I’m in love with this recipe. I admit, I’ve made it only once - I’ll let you know if this still rings true after my third try. I was afraid that when I attempted to remove them from the pan they would fall to bits. False. They looked breathtaking. Especially considering it was my first time making squares of ANY sort.

Now to give you some history to base your new found love for Betty Crocker on. Get ready for your hearts to be dashed on the rocks – she wasn’t real. I know. Now as you’re picking up the pieces of your shattered heart, let me fill you in. Betty Crocker was an icon trademarked by General Mills. The name was established in order to give a “personal feel” to the product. Why the name Betty? Well, apparently it was viewed as the, wait for it, “ALL-AMERICAN cheery name”. And the last name stems from a director who was working for General Mills at the time. So who was creating all these gourmet recipes? Marjorie Child Husted was the face behind the name. Poor lady – apparently Marjorie wasn’t cheery enough of a name to base an entire cooking brand on.

Well, Marjorie, whoever you are, I raise my glass to you! You’ve changed my life. Thanks for the foolproof lemon square recipe!
January 15, 2010

Para Usted

In the fore-front of my mind today – Haiti.

Not a surprise, seeing as it’s all over the news. A lady from work adopted a girl from there and informed us at devos of some of the tragic happenings at the orphanage. You can’t help but have your heart broken when you think of all those children who are without a home. And the problem is that now, after the devastation, their facilities are so full, with newly orphaned kids. How do you even begin to process this? How do you even begin to help?

Reminds me of when I was a missionary kid – we would try to go and visit the slums regularly. I remember having to look through my toys and pick the ones that I “rarely used” – great lesson in sharing! And then when you get up there, and see the way those people survive day-to-day, you want to give them the toys that are your favourite...just cause you know they deserve it more than you do!

My best memory of this was one year when I had a beautiful, pink frilly dress. I was walking around (no fear – I was in close proximity to the rest of my family) trying to figure out who to give it to, and low and behold this young girl (about my age) came strolling up. Raggedy Anne. Obviously not her real name, but that’s what comes to mind. She was dressed in nothing more than dirty rags. And when I stretched my hands out to offer my pink dress to her, she stood, motionless, eyes wide, confused. I took a step closer and held it out again. “Para usted”. Now let me just clarify one aspect of this story – I loved that pink dress. It was every young girls dream princess-like dress. Not trying to pump myself up, but I think you need to realize the depth of the situation. She was unbelievably grateful. When she finally realized that I wanted her to have it, no strings attached, she went running for her mother. I know she probably wore that dress ‘til it fell apart. And she probably cherished it more than I ever did. I’m grateful my parents allowed us to experience that – because it makes you come to a place where “things” aren’t the world to you – and instead you want to shower those who are less fortunate.

“No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves” – Amelia Earhart
January 14, 2010

Absolutely Maybe

Wednesdays. Hump day. Mid week. Wishing it was already Friday. These were my yesterday thoughts. Something that help me get through the mid week slump is knowing a room full of loud, dancing teens will be awaiting my arrival at 6:45PM in our gloriously entertaining youth room. There’s nothing like creating a tunnel for people to come running through – who doesn’t love to have screaming “fans” yelling your name and cheering for you as you make your way into a room? If only all room entries were as exhilarating as that. And then, when the last teen has mozied on out the door, and the last light has been turned off, and just when I’m about to be sad that the evening has come to an end, I remember that the highly anticipated bounty hunter of the century (my words, not his), Dog, is waiting for me.

Andrew and I have created somewhat of a ritual for what we call “post-youth wind-down time”. It usually consists of some sort of pre-bedtime snack and an edge-of-your-seat episode of Dog the Bounty Hunter. Not only are we taught about how it’s ok to swear and scream in someone’s face and then two seconds later pray for them, but we get to see the ins and outs of the working criminal mind (is it really working?! Hmmm.). Most of the time we kill ourselves laughing at how ridiculous they all are. Our favourite quote of Dogs – “This is absolutely the place...maybe”. Spoken with such authority. Spoken with such certainty. Followed by a incompetent chaser. Oh Dog. How you inspire us to be nothing like you.

So while these thoughts are few, they are indeed from the inner workings of my subconscious. Hope you enjoyed the randomness!

“There is no such thing in anyone’s life as an unimportant day” – Alexander Woollcott
January 13, 2010

A Life Worth Living

At what point during your existence do you finally realize what it is that God wants you to do with your life? When I was eleven I wanted to be a veterinarian. Then I talked to one, realized I would have to be in school for seven years, and vetoed that idea. Of course, if I add up all the years I was in school, I might as well have become one – cause at least then I’d have a profession.

I woke up this morning feeling frustrated with myself for not having picked a major that led straight into a career. This is a bizarre thought to come traipsing into my mind, especially considering the fact that I’m a very spontaneous person. I love change. I love flying by the seat of my pants. So for me to wish that I had a more “set” future is somewhat disconcerting. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what exactly I want, or wish, I could do with my degree. I’ve considered counselling, PRC’s, youth drop in centers, high school guidance counsellor, and the list goes on. Of recent, I’ve been dwelling more on the idea of an addictions and community services counsellor. It’s funny because when I tell people where my interests lie, most respond with: “Hmm. That’s a difficult field to get into. You’re going to have a hard time”. First of all, I just have to say – thanks for the vote of confidence (most of these people are strangers, or people who have only scratched the service, so I don’t feel so bad laying it out there!). I don’t doubt that it takes a specific individual to be able to compartmentalize the different emotions and individuals that you can come into contact with in a day. It is by no means an EASY job – but oh so rewarding! Can you imagine what it would be like, twenty years after you’ve been in that position, to receive a letter from a former client – informing you just how much you changed their lives, how they are back on their feet, how they are making a difference now. It would be worth it, even just to say I helped one person.

By no means am I venturing down this road right now. I’m in the “Hey God, is this idea worth pursuing?” phase. I’m collecting ideas. I’m researching. I’m networking. I’m excited to see what God’s plan is. I was out for lunch today with some girls from work, and one of them, unbeknownst to her, encouraged me so much, just by saying “You’re so young. You have tons of time to figure things out. Enjoy where you are...and let God lead you where you’re supposed to be. Right now you have your nose up against a massive mural. But at some point God’s going to ask you to step back, and then you’ll be able to see the whole painting. And, oh how beautiful it’s going to be!” I’m excited. Did you catch that vibe? I’m excited!!

“Often the real test of courage is not to die, but to live” – Conte Vittorio Alfieri
January 12, 2010

Week two, and still going strong

Culturing attempt number one did not come into fruition. How is it that an entire weekend can pass so quickly? I am pleased to report, however, that I was able to take time to pamper myself.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, the spa located below my work, gives away gift certificates to all us employees who are brave enough to park elsewhere – in order to allot more parking spaces to their faithful clients. And so, I braved the storming weather, and parked across the street...thankful that it would only be 10 days before a glorious $100 gift certificate would appear on my desk. I survived. My car, on the other hand, took a major hit. One frightful day I returned to find that someone had broken into my car and stolen all my CD’s and the change from my ash tray. I know you’re probably thinking – “How dare they steal your ash tray money”...RIGHT?! I know. I know. It was a mere $1. But still. That’s my grocery cart money. It’s not often that I find myself carrying a loonie around and so I had made a habit to leave that dollar in the car so I would always have it. I even had the self-control to resist spending it on a coffee. Of course, I was deeply saddened by the loss of my CD’s as well. This is the second time I’ve had them stolen – last time from my Festiva. And what’s worse is I can’t fully remember all the CD’s that were in those cases. Basically, I’m starting from scratch again. Sigh.

Alls that to say – the $100 gift certificate was more than earned and I was excited to treat myself to a little TLC! So Friday evening, Becks and I made our way to Spa Utopia and a glorious hour later, we left, completely relaxed, and sporting beautifully manicured hands.

In the midst of relaxing in the lounge in the back, while sipping a “Spa Signature” drink (apple juice, lemon, a mint leave, and Rooibous tea...so delish), I started to wonder what it is about pampering that causes you to view yourself in a more positive light. For women too, I think we enjoy the idea of getting to catch up with our girlfriends – there were three ladies in the lounge just as giddy as ever. And of course, me and Becks were pretty animated too – at one point Beck had to remind me that “quiet whisper voices” were expected in the lounge. There’s just something about soothing music, dimmed lights, organic dried fruit and the smell of eucalyptus that makes you forget about money problems, relationship issues, work stress – everything fades into the background, and for 60 minutes (or however long you can afford to be there) you revel in the fact that you can be care free. Sad that I can only afford to revel in that fact once a year – but revel I did! And now back to reality. Until next time!

“Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives” – William James
January 8, 2010

Culturing the Uncultured

There is something about living in a big city, or at least near such a place, that innately causes people to explore the possibilities of becoming a culturally savvy individual. And, after having fought with the idea for some time, I have come to realize that I need to embrace the downtown buzz. So, beginning this month, I embark on a journey of transforming myself into an accomplished Vancouver-ite – complete with all the knowledge of the inside “local” scoop. And so my first adventure begins.

I have chosen to drag my sista – Bex – and of course whoever else is willing, along for the ride. There is no shortage to the possibilities that are out there – from outdoor activities, to dining out, to artistic encounters, to shopping experiences – a plethora of opportunities are waiting to be tackled deep in the heart of Vancouver.

When I was in university, I signed up for an art history class. In the beginning it was merely something that fit my schedule, but as I immersed myself in the paintings of Van Gogh and various other expressionistic artists, a new love was forming. I began to see the way art has changed over the years and came to appreciate the talent that God chooses to give people – the ability to create and inspire others. It astounds me how one picture can bring about different responses in people. I love standing in front of a painting and just absorbing the colours and the way it comes to life. Not only am I wondering about the painting itself, but I imagine what was happening in the life of the artist – where was their inspiration coming from? What was their story?

South Granville Art Galleries. The first door waiting to be opened. The first influence into the new and improved, culturally savvy me!

“There is no retirement for an artist. It’s your way of living so there’s no end to it.” – Henry Moore
January 7, 2010

What the World Needs Now

There is nothing enjoyable about waking up to the sound of an alarm clock. There comes a point in everyone’s life where that alarm becomes this invariably traumatizing and dreaded morning event. I think it has something to do with getting to the age where you are expected to be somewhere at a certain time. In the care-free days of childhood, we WANTED to get up early – cartoons were on, there was sugar cereal to be eaten, and it was show-and-tell at preschool! And as the years went by, sugar cereal turned to oatmeal (it’s healthier after all), show-and-tell turned to work projects and nothing was worth getting out of a soft, cozy bed – not even cartoons! Unless, of course, you’re one of those people who has been blessed with an internal clock that brings you to life at 6am with a capacity to run a marathon! Oh how I wish I was one of those people who eagerly anticipated the morning! They say you can train yourself, and I have tried, but then the weekend rolls around, and I’m right back to PJ-ing it up until at least 10:30am. I’m a lost cause!

Since being introduced to the life of blogging, I find myself completely addicted to reading other blogs – even those of people I do not even remotely know! Is this a normal occurrence for a newcomer? It not only helps to fill a dull moment in the day, but it helps to stimulate your imagination and open up the channels of creativity that are just begging to be set free! The greatest thing is that there is a world of possibilities when it comes to blogging and the variety in what people write about is astounding. Stories of heartache, pictures, random facts and “how-to’s”, shopping tips – and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Makes you realize there is no expert in the blogging industry- we’re each our own expert when it comes to our blogs. Doesn’t that make you feel so important?

Now quit reading my blog, open up a new post, and share your thoughts with the world! Someone is out there waiting to be awed by the letters you’re going to put into thoughts! Happy writing!

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman
January 6, 2010

Colour Everywhere

Someone wise once told me that the key to happiness is to relish in each moment God gives you – each breath, each conversation, each interaction, each adventure. So this morning, on my way to work, I decided to forget about the need for speed and the rush of everyday life and just enjoy the drive. Let me tell you, unless everyone else who is driving on the road is also in the mood for such reflection time, you better be geared up to get rammed off the road! I was by no means puttering along (though I usually go at least 10km over the speed limit) but apparently even going JUST the speed limit is not good enough for the working business world. Where exactly does this need to race to work come from? Are people that interested in what they are doing for a living that they have to weave in and out of traffic – at 7:30am no less – to get to their cubicles and keyboards? The skies were blue, the sun was rising, colour was reflecting everywhere – was no one else noticing this? Since the “no cell phone use” law has come into place, I find myself with much more “multi-tasking time” available (do people really keep their eyes on the roads at all time?). With no small, backlit cell phone screen to look at, I find myself taking in my surroundings…and this was just one morning where I wasn’t going to let some uptight drivers ruin it for me! While it may seem small (in comparison to, say, bungee jumping), it was still the most adventurous drive I’ve had to work yet!
January 5, 2010

A New Year, A New Blog

So I’ve been inspired to start up my blog again after seeing the movie “Julie and Julia”. There’s something about getting to share your thoughts with the world that seems exciting and at the same time challenges you to become someone of consequence. Who doesn’t want some strangers reading your day-to-day thoughts and getting a glimpse of your sometimes exhilarating, sometimes down-right boring life?

In order to be diligent with blogging though, I’m going to need to do more than just work (cause who wants to only read about the mundane happenings of an office?). So for the year of 2010, I’m challenging myself to take up some good ‘ole fashioned adventures – not just so I have gripping tales to tell, but because life needs adventures!

And so I close this, my first blog entry, with a quote:

"This is the beginning of a new day. You have been given this day to use as you will. You can waste it or use it for good. What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever; in its place is something that you have left behind...let it be something good." - Author Unknown

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