Thursday, 26 March 2015

Seeing the Opportunity

I sat at my desk doing regular admin stuff. 
Trying to keep busy...my mind thinking about the weather and kids and dinner.
Life as I know it.
Not perfect, but pretty nice in the grand scheme of things.

He walked in and he wasn't the usual type who walks into an arts centre and gallery in the middle of the day.

He told me he was trying to get his poetry published and was wondering where to start.

I thought for a minute, knowing we didn't offer those services or helps...
"That's great", I said, "unfortunately we don't provide anything like that here..."

He interrupted before I could finish the sentence, defensive...noticeably too familiar with being shut-down, turned away, cut-off.

"I wasn't saying you guys did that stuff...."

And then the transparency and the truth. 
Raw and hard to hear, yet surprising and maybe refreshing in its rareness.

"It's just that I'm homeless ya know...yeah, I live at that shelter...you know, drugs and alcohol. And I write and I want to do something with it, and I don't really know where to start."

Time stopped for me right there, right then. 
Dinner and the weather and other diversions seemed a long way off in the distance.

I looked at him - in his eyes.
All of the things he just told me....I wouldn't have known.
He just seemed like an edgy kid, with a cold, in a hoodie.

I repositioned myself to let him know that I wasn't distracted.
My leg brushed the panic button dangling under the desk.

"That's really great that you're using your creativity...have you tried the library? They sometimes have writers circles and they could probably gear you in the right direction."

His gaze was intense. 
And I met it with mine.
"Thanks, do you have to pay for those circles", he asked.

I told him I was pretty sure they were free.

He turned to leave, and then paused and looked back...
"Hey, do you want to hear one of my poems?"

I told him I'd love to.

He took off his hood and straightened his ball cap. He almost started and then smiled and said, "it's from 2008 and it's at least 30 seconds long...so DON'T interrupt me."

He shared from memory, it was rhythmic spoken word, and it was a statement on how society tells you they care, but they usually don't. 
He was flawless.

I didn't look away once. I watched him for the duration. 

Eloquent.
Seen.
Valid.

I told him it was awesome.
He did a great job.
He asked me my name and told me his.
He said thanks for the info.
I told him good luck.

I was struck by his transparency. 
He had a lot to hide - we all do - but he didn't hide it.

He vulnerably offered up what he had to offer and took the chance that someone would want to hear it. Why do I think my offering might not measure up?

He asked for help and direction, and gave ME the opportunity to jump into his path for a split second. Why do I fake strength where I'm weak...and forgo the opportunity for growth and community?

I am well acquainted with the journey, downfalls and lifelong struggles of addiction. I know that he has a hard road ahead of him. 

But I happen to believe that God's got his number, and knows His name...and that He's got better plans for him than addiction and homelessness and struggle. I believe because of this:



I want to walk through life with open mind, open heart, and open hands.
I want to be part of the movement that restores...and sees the promise behind the pain.
That day, that interaction, it was a Divine set-up. 
It was an opportunity.
I'm thankful for it.
I always want to see the opportunity.

Check out this guys' opportunity and what he did with it ~ amazing.

A Pizza Shop Customer's Kind Gesture Turns Into Pay-It-Forward Campaign



Wednesday, 4 February 2015

A Shout Out to the Play-It-Small-Gals

What does stepping out look like to you?
What arena in your life is hinting - I know you have more to offer than you let on?


I think many of us are play-it-small-gals...for lots of reasons.

I also realize more and more that if you take the time to really hear, and see, and know the women around you, you’ll find out that even the ones who seem to be living large and playing beautifully into their own strengths... also have insecurities, questions of worth, and a failure or mistake that they just can’t seem to forget.


Have you ever heard the line of thinking - ‘happiness is a form of courage’?

I believe the same can be said for bringing what you have, and who you are, into the playing field and unapologetically announcing...

“I’m here to contribute because I've got something great to offer.”

Freaky Friday right?

I know.


Someone gave me a huge compliment recently and it will likely only ring true as a compliment to me. She said, “You’re quirky, and you like ugly things, and that’s awesome.”


I loved this, and it runs through my mind almost everyday now, and I smile.
And here’s why….
It’s true, I am quirky and I like ugly things...and I’ve fought for 38 years to be okay with that.
To be okay with me.


I’m going to be brutally honest here and I just know that it’s going to resonate, because that’s what honesty always does. You shine the light into the dark corners, and all of the skeletons scatter.


I was an overachiever at a very young age, and the second I started school that was recognized. I was bumped into higher grade levels for academic subjects and I was chosen to mentor my own peers who were struggling because I was patient and had an effortless grasp of the work so I was always ahead of everyone else. Early on I was placed in academic enrichment and was removed from my class several times per month to study more advanced topics.
I loved school.
I loved what it did for my brain.
I loved that I was good at it.
I loved contributing.
I felt like I had an identity where my strengths were celebrated.


I know...horrifying right?
But I don’t know if you know where this is going….


As a result of being singled out I got labeled by my peers. They weren’t endearing terms. They were accusatory and meant to belittle me. In fifth grade it developed into full blown bullying and a new girl took on the role of ring leader in an effort to completely decimate all of my friendships and successes, and destroyed my sense of self worth right along with it.


I never told anyone.


I didn’t even know until far into my grown up years that these actions were classified as bullying.

All I knew was this - who I was and the things I was good at were going to be a source of torment and ridicule and my safest bet would be to get as close to being invisible as possible.

And that’s what I did.
For years.


We moved that year and changed schools but the damage had been done. Starting out in grade 6 my teacher contacted my parents and asked if I had been in special education classes at my previous school because I was so timid he assumed there must be an intellectual delay at play. He was floored when my mom told him that I was a straight A, enrichment student.


Upon entry into grade 9 my assigned guidance counsellor set up an appointment with me to nail down which academic clubs I was going to join. I told him I wouldn’t be joining any of them. Over the next few weeks he urged me to reconsider, and I wouldn’t.
In tenth grade my English teacher asked me to submit a written piece for the English awards. I brushed her off forever, until I finally caved and shoved a messy, hand-written essay into her hands just so she would leave me alone.
By grade 11 I was nearly failing every course and in grade 12 I got kicked out of school.
I almost didn’t graduate.


I’ve had the nagging suspicion for decades that who I am is just too much.
Too much to accept.
Too much to like.
Too much to love.

You too?

I have spent all of my adult years sifting through this message...and listening to this voice...that sounded like my own...believing it was the voice of protection and security for me.

But I’ve been wrong.
And you’re wrong too.

No one else can offer up what I can offer up. Because all of it was hand-chosen and assigned by a Creator whose ways are higher. A God who knows that the place I live and the people I know may need someone like me to give what I’ve got to give.

No one can bring to the table what you can bring to the table. Because when you were created, the mold was broken. You’re the one and only. You choose to hide what you have and who you are...and the world misses out.


Emerging past these walls is hard, but also like getting reacquainted with an old, long lost friend...one I liked...one who I could remember really loving at one point.


There are many, many unknown reasons why people play small in their lives...why they don’t bring their best to the table. You may not even know that she is outstanding in one area... or he is gifted in another. 
It’s all kept under wraps.


But...can I shout it from the rooftops....?!?!?

It’s. Not. Worth. It.

It’s time to take the jump.
It’s time to risk it.

Because your lifestyle of burying and hiding and playing small...soon becomes your lifestory.

We weren’t created to bury the light.
We were created to bring it.



our deepest fear.jpg

Saturday, 17 January 2015

The Gift of the Unexpected Mile Markers

I sat in a job interview this week...and I was prepared, and there was flow, and it was good.
There's no answer yet, I don't know if this is the next fork in the road or not.

Waiting.

I slept well the night before the interview, but the night after my veins were charged with adrenaline and I spent many of the nighttime hours processing all...and anything...and everything.

And my mind flashed back to the last time I sat in an interview that held a lot of weight for me, and the flashes were vivid and tangible.

3 1/2 years ago.
Broken and reeling.
Hoping to get a part time shift, here or there, when I didn't even rightly know what day it might be or how I was going to make a life with my children on my own....
The questions weaved in and out of job-related, to personal attributes, until..."tell us about yourself", crashed like a bomb into that office. It seemed to echo and shake the walls from where I sat and I stared at the two women across from me, perched and ready for my response...and all that came to mind was: my reality, and the parting words from my marriage that would prove to be the hauntings of my loneliest moments for several years moving forward.

"Tell us about yourself" ~ My marriage is broken and my husband is gone.
"Tell us about yourself" ~ Nothing I could ever offer would be anything anyone will ever want."
"Tell us about yourself" ~ I live in my sister's basement.

Silence.

Although the torture of that moment will always be stamped on my recall, and it seemed to be countless ages of dead air where I inwardly crumbled at a simple question....The reality is, it was a split second pause, I weakly answered the question and shockingly got the job.
Grace.

It occurred to me, in the looking back, that the meeting this week was dramatically incomparable to the last one...those 3+ years ago...and not because the questions, or the scene were all that different...but I was.

Life's mile marker can pop up at very unexpected times.
And even though I don't know the outcome of the interview this week - I know, and celebrate, the proofs of growth, and healing and grace in my life.
God is at work.
Always.

I cannot count the ways my life being completely decimated has changed me ~ for the better.
But in all honesty, the moment you realize you've been slotted for growth it doesn't usually feel sweet.
It feels like pain and confusion.
It feels like darkness and the unknown.
It feels raw, and open, and wounded.

One of the sweetest and hardest whispers you will ever hear is: I love you too much to leave you like this.

This is where He works.
The hard comes first.
The sweet comes next.
It doesn't mean that we suffer at the hands of God.
It means that He can take ashes and spin beauty... if we let Him.

If you're deep in the choppy waters of His work....
And if it feels far more like swimming to exhaustion, and near-drowning, instead of a Divine intervention....
Force your tired soul to hear the whisper....
"I love you too much to leave you like this...."

Be mad at it first.
That's real and necessary.
But know this:
That whisper is drenched in grace and is weighted heavy with extravagant, overflowing care.

When He begins His work - He is faithful to complete it.
And maybe not now, and maybe not tomorrow...maybe 3 years from today...light will crash into your thoughts and you will catch a glimpse of the miracle, and you will know this is your story, and it's unfolding just as it should.

No devastation is out of beauty's reach.
Not mine.
Not yours.
Not ever.