Refuse to be Passive

Archive for July, 2011|Monthly archive page

Rain, rain, go away…

In Life in General on July 20, 2011 at 11:58 am

I wish the weather in Edmonton would make up it’s mind. This entire summer has been rain filled, interspersed with a few hours of sunlight here or there. Yesterday I was sweating as I walked to work, and I was thinking the next morning I’d have to walk in a skirt. It was a calm, bright, sunny morning, the kind that you love right until you can’t get the sun out of your eyes and you wish you’d opted for contacts and sunglasses.

This morning, I got up and put on a skirt, anticipating another warm walk. I popped in my contacts and made sure to dig my sunglasses out of the bottom of my purse.  I got out the door, shades at the ready, only to discover a chilly overcast day. Let me tell you, all this rain and overcast, all these thunderstorms, are not part of your typical Edmonton summer.

That being said, it seems that weather is going wonky right across the country. Storms seem to be becoming the norm. And while the days may not be seeming much hotter than usual (if at all), apparently our nights are getting warmer, meaning the earth has less time to cool before the start of another day. Some climatologists think that’s the reason all the storms are kicking up. Chalk one up for global warming. Now, I’m not going to start arguing about causes of global warming and if it’s all humanities fault or if it’s natural, or if it’s a combo, however I will say that if you still doubt global warming after the weather and disasters of the past few years, you’ve got your head stuck in the sand. That being said, the only bird I can think of that sticks its head in the sand has a brain the size of its eyeball.  (Oh, and I have no recollection of where I read that climatology pieces, but I do remember it was a reputable source).

That being said, I have started reducing my carbon footprint by getting rid of my car– although I admit there were more reasons for nixing the car than just that– and starting to embrace the life of a pedestrian. I tend to walk unless public transit is absolutely necessary. Once I move to Toronto in a few weeks, I’ll look into getting a bike as well. But, as I am without a vehicle, I say this to that gray sky and the moisture that continually seems to surround us, “Rain, rain, go away! Come again another day.”

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Community and Hospitality

In Life in General on July 15, 2011 at 10:31 am

Always do right. This will gratify some and astonish the rest.

– Mark Twain

These past few weeks I’ve been thinking about my role as a Christian within my immediate community and the larger surrounding world. I’ve been thinking about a Christian’s call to community and hospitality. We live in a world where we’re so rushed that developing community often consists of meeting a friend for a quick cup of coffee and a chat, and where hospitality is left for special occasions. I must confess that I don’t know that I practice hospitality in my daily life. I am a busy person, although I envy those who can have an open door policy, allowing people to drop in as they please. I think that practicing hospitality has been twisted in our culture to reflect evenings of food and fun, dressed up to the nines. Dinner parties, cocktail parties, BBQs. The house must be immaculate before you’d dream of having someone over. In a way, we hide who we really are under a mask of hospitality.

Hospitality goes so much beyond hosting dinner parties or brunches. It goes beyond food, although the sharing of food can certainly be a time of blessing. I love food, and I love to cook, so these things come easily to me. But being a hostess isn’t necessarily hospitality. If you’re so busy making sure nothing is burning, and can’t take time to visit, what is the point? Doesn’t true hospitality involve slowing down and taking the time to listen to what our guests have to say– to celebrate their joys and share in their sorrows? To help where needed, to be a support?

I’m about to embark on a chapter of life in a couple weeks– moving to Toronto to attend culinary school. It’s the fulfillment of a dream, but also a chance to start fresh, to practice true hospitality from the get-go. It’s a chance to get to know new people in a way that will bless them. In a culture where everyone is rushing to get things done, where everyone is in a hurry, I have the opportunity to step back, take a breath, and exemplify a slow, deliberate pace of life that brings with it peace, joy, and calm. This slowing down is something our culture desperately needs, and something it runs from. Hopefully, in my own little corner of the world, I can encourage others to use their down time in a way not wasteful, but still relaxing. Developing true relationships, rather than turning on the TV and turning off the brain.  Hopefully I can be an example to others of what a life of peace can look like, what a life of hospitality and community can look like.

Note: This may not be the most eloquent post ever, it just kind of fell out of my brain and onto my blog. None the less, I hope you enjoyed reading it and have been given some food for thought.

Strengths and Weaknesses

In Life in General on July 13, 2011 at 1:20 pm

I’ve been thinking about strengths and weaknesses lately. This has come about for a few reasons. The first is that I recently had my yearly staff evaluation at work, and the second is that I will, fairly shortly, begin applying for serving jobs out in Toronto to help offset the cost of my education. And you know that in interviews they always ask you what your greatest strengths and weaknesses are. What a dumb question. It stumps me every time. So this time, I’m beating it to the punch. I don’t simply want to take a strength and twist it into a weakness by saying something like, “I care too much.” That’s absurd and every employer has heard a hundred people claim a strength as a weakness. So that’s where this thought process started.

Strangely enough, I don’t actually think that the concept of turning a strength into a “weakness” is really all that far off. Our real weaknesses however, often lie opposite our greatest strengths. Think Superman and kryptonite. His strength is directly related to that green gem, and yet it debilitates him.  Yet without his alien heritage on Krypton he wouldn’t have powers, he’d simply be another human being.  Superman has to take the bad with the good, just like we do.

In my life, the fact that I dwell on the future and the possibilities it holds is a great strength. The fact that I’m a big picture thinker is a boon. That being said, I can sometimes leave detail thinkers in the dust looking dazed and confused when I jump from step one to twenty-three. Then I have to back up and work step by step through the process. There you have it! A strength and a weakness. The other weakness that goes hand in hand with being a global thinker is that I tend to be rather horrific at the organizational/administrative end of things. I’ve always fondly thought of my office at work as organized chaos. Now that I’m leaving my job and have to prepare my office for a new person, I’m discovering that it’s more chaos than organized. I need a details person to back me up and make sure things work out– all the Ts are crossed and the Is are dotted.

What else? I am a communicator. On the whole that’s a fantastic trait. While I easily pick up friendships with people in all areas of life due to a wide variety of interests, I tend to love sharing a little too much and have difficulty allowing others to get a word in edgewise. I need to continue to develop my abilities as a communicator, and part of that is recognizing that communication is a two-way street. I need to temper my desire to share my experiences with the need to listen to what others have to share. Once again, a strength juxtaposed with a weakness.

So that just goes to show that there are weaknesses that go with strengths. The key for me, when talking about weaknesses with an employer, is to be honest, but also to know the solutions to my weaknesses. I need to focus on catering to my strengths and be willing to find solutions for my weaknesses. Everyone has weaknesses, and they aren’t necessarily bad things. All we have to do is learn to harness the strengths of others to support our weaknesses and really allow us to shine.

Crazy Love

In Uncategorized on July 6, 2011 at 9:01 am

These past couple of weeks I’ve been feeling the love. You don’t often hear from people how much you mean to them. For some reason that all changes when you tell them you’re moving away to go back to school. All of a sudden the time crunch is on and you wind up with people hugging you at random, telling you how much you’ll be missed. Okay, so only my sister is doing that at this point. But I’ve also had people come into my office to let me know that they’ll miss me– and this with another three weeks to go at work! I’ve already been taken out for two goodbye lunches, one for work and one with some ladies from my church. The ladies from my church also set me up with some lovely giftcards that will be helpful in outfitting myself as a commuter– MEC and Chapters, here I come! Actually, I think I’ll wait on those until I’m out east as that means less to pack. So I’ve been bombarded at work and church with well wishes from friends and acquaintances. Many of them have tried to make me promise to come back. While that is my current intent, no promises have been made.

And then, yesterday, I experienced a truly crazy form of love. I got an envelope in the mail from one of my best friends from high school. While we don’t often get the chance to meet up anymore, we’d been able to grab dinner together a few weeks ago when I was at a conference in her home town. I was delighted by the mail, thinking it was a follow-up note in regards to our time spent together, with updates on some of the things we’d discussed. She’s one of those friends who you can just pick up with where you left off, regardless of time lapse. I love those friends. Anyway, it was not a note exactly as I’d expected. Without going into too much detail I will say this, the envelope did contain a note, but it was scrawled on a stickynote. The sticky note was attached to a cheque intended to help me out with school. I was floored. I certainly hadn’t expected that! Especially not from someone I only get to see once every few years! That is true generosity in action. That is crazy love. I hope that in the future I have the opportunity to repay that kindness. In which way, I do not know. But hopefully I can remember this act of crazy love in friendship, and pay it forward to those I meet in my daily life in both word and deed.