it is friday. of a long weekend.

{insert sigh of relief here}

since last friday, it has been a very long week of computer issues {not to mention the accompanying meltdown}, reading group, creating a new brochure and campaign in record time, finally getting a new cell phone that actually works, a migraine or two, movie nights, dinner party, freelancing, and so much more.

i am ready for a long weekend.

it's been over a week since i actually observed my morning writing ritual. i miss it, and the feeling of clarity it helps me enter my day with. i am looking forward to reintroducing this, and other pre-craziness rituals back into my life over the next three days.

i do have some plans for the weekend...
  • tonight is movie night with some of the girls. we are watching Julie & Julia, and beforehand, i plan to make a chocolate cream pie, since one cannot watch this movie without getting enormously hungry....
  • tomorrow morning, i would like to visit downtown Oakville, and have coffee at the Green Bean Cafe, as it seems like a lifetime since i was last there. maybe i'll bring my camera...
  • there are some freelance projects that need to be wrapped up.
  • sunday night i'm going to see either Salt or Inception with my friend Chris...
so, there are some things planned for these three glorious days, but what i need most of all is some productive silence, deliberate solitude, focused prayer, unhurried reading, and uncluttered living time. with August, comes the beginning of ministry prep for fall, and all that that entails. i've had a small glimpse into the month, and its magnitude is epic. the best thing i can do is head into the next month emotionally, physically and spiritually prepared for all that lies ahead.

no matter what you find yourself doing this weekend, i hope at the end of it you are rested, refreshed and ready for the days to come.



i think if i had to pinpoint one flaw that most keeps me from doing and being all i can, it would have to be my super-human ability to doubt myself.

there aren't many areas of life where doubt and second guessing doesn't factor in. my writing {is what i'm writing really relevant, intelligent, informed, or am i simply spewing the ridiculous randomness in my head?}. the job {this design isn't as good as the last one. what if i never have a creative thought ever again? what if they find out i don't have a clue what i'm doing?}. even conversations that i have {did i really say that? she's going to think i am an idiot. why did i have to open my mouth at all?}.

all these things and more are subject to the harsh and glaring critic living inside my head,whose only job, it seems, is to constantly tell me that what i'm doing isn't good enough, creative enough, intelligent enough... or simply enough.

it's far too easy to let the questioning, negative voices actually run the show that is my life. and besides, i don't even like living like this! if i was wearing a pair of shoes that was so painful as to ruin my day, i wouldn't hesitate to change them. so why have i allowed doubt to inconvenience, and at times, even sabotage me?

i want to be done with the incessant self-doubting. i want to stop second guessing myself, and begin trusting in the gifts that God has given me. and if i make a mistake, then i pick up and go on from there.

there are enough things in life that serve to derail you from your purpose... there's no sense in adding to it.



growing up, one of the things the mom regularly said to my brothers and me {especially the latter}, was to be careful of what we say, because once our words are out there, it is impossible to take them back.

despite this good advice, on more than one occasion i have allowed my mouth to spew whatever it wanted, resulting in plenty of apologies, and the loss of many hours of sleep as i stewed over what amounts to an unfortunate decision in not keeping my mouth shut. having been the beneficiary of such wisdom at an early age, i still occasionally feel the need to push those boundaries.

back when mom first said this, there really were limited ways that one could wield their words. besides the traditional face to face method, there was the telephone, and of course, the good, old fashioned letter. the one really having staying power, leaving tangible proof behind, was the letter. but think about the process. you not only had to write or type it {by hand!}, then find an envelope, address it, get the proper postage, and then bring it to the post office. while i am sure that plenty of hastily and poorly-worded letters have gone out over the years, given the amount of work that went into sending one letter, i believe that there were more opportunities for level-headedness, calm and wisdom to prevail, and some letters, in the long process of posting, were wisely not sent.

fast forward to the crazy information age we find ourselves in. in haste we can write an email, and before we even have the ability to fully think about what we are actually saying, the Send button is shining in all its glory, waiting to be clicked. voice mail can be saved and broadcast to the entire world, just ask Mel Gibson or Sumner Redstone. and all you have to do is ask the many who have lost jobs, friends and/or relationships over poorly thought-through and speedily posted words on Twitter or Facebook, and you can see that words, and their staying power is alive and well.

the reality in a digital age is that even more so than in the past, you can never take your words back. in a matter of minutes, they can go from your brain to around the world, a digital can of worms that can never be retracted.

long before mom, the apostle Peter wrote similar words to some churches...
If you want to enjoy life
and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies. | 1 Peter 3:10
good advice, no matter where and when you live.



the possibilities are numerous once we decide
to act and not react. | george bernard shaw
it's easy to forget that there is a difference between acting and reacting.

to act is to take action and do something. it is proactive in the very essence of itself. to react is to respond or behave in response to something. it responds to stimulus, not to reason and decision. by its very nature it plays catch up. it allows the situations and stuff of life to dictate how we live our lives.

last week, i was eons more reactive than i would like to think that i am. i'm looking for a better week, filled with more actions that reactions this time around.
guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life. | proverbs 4:23

* * * * *

how do you get yourself out of reacting mode when you find yourself there?



while i wouldn't describe myself as a control freak, there have been those in my life who have wandered into that neighborhood, and made such an assertion.

okay, so i like to be in control. but let's not blow this out of perspective. i don't want supremacy over the whole world. i have no such secret ambitions. {now, if we were talking my own small island near the south of france, i think i would make a very good Queen Susanne... but we digress.}

all this to say, that while i may have degrees of desire to be in control, i wouldn't really call them issues. there are simply things that life goes better when i have the power to manage them.

let me say that this week, in my work life, there wasn't a great deal of control to be had. a new {and faulty} version of Photoshop took over my life, and refused to let me do my job. do you know what happens when i cannot do my job? i didn't, until it all came to a head yesterday, and while i won't go into all the details, let me just say that it isn't pretty. one thing that i definitely did not have control over yesterday was my reaction to the situation.

basically, as i sat at my desk, the fifth time i tried to do the one thing i needed to do to finish the sermon presentation for sunday, and the fifth time Photoshop crashed my computer in an hour, i had the grown up equivalent of a temper tantrum. there were tears—angry tears, definitely not the pretty kind. there was anger. there were pouty faces. there was grumbling.

i was a mess.

you want to believe that when life doesn't go your way that you will handle it with grace and poise. not to mention the reminder that even if Photoshop doesn't work ever again, God is still God, and in the big picture, nothing has changed.

i want to believe i am this person, but yesterday proved that i am not yet her.

being daily aware of the fact that i am not a perfect person, i rarely have illusions of sainthood. but the place i went to yesterday, simply because i could not do my job, has reminded me that i still have so far to go, there is still so much more inside me that needs to be illuminated by God's grace, and changed to be more like Jesus.

so far to go...



it seems that everyone has a season, or a time of year that makes them wish for another. for many, it is winter, and the desire for longer days, more sunshine, and less cold becomes the cry of their heart.

for me, it is summer. i find the heat draining, not just physically, but emotionally and creatively as well. so my tendency during these hot days is to dream of fall, of sweater weather, of walking accompanied by the crunch of brightly hued leaves underfoot. of pumpkin pies to be baked. of...

but the truth is i cannot live in the future. and even though right now my mind can conjure up almost exactly how a pie would smell if it were baking in the oven right now, it is not what is before me. what is before me, is a thursday in july. and even though, temperature-wise, it probably won't be my favorite thursday of the year, this is where i must live.

i love this poem by Wendell Berry, and how it helps me to remember that i am here, not in october, and that it's not a perfect world that i need to live in, but a better way of looking at the one i find myself in.
What We Need Is Here
—Wendell Berry

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.



home |hōm|
the place where one lives permanently, esp. as a member of a family
        • the family or social unit occupying such a place
        • a house or an apartment considered as a commercial property
        • a place where something flourishes, or is most typically found.
there are three places on earth that i think of when i say home, and strangely enough, i have only ever lived in one of them.

the one place that have, and am living in, is the Streetsville area of Mississauga. i am writing this post from my basement apartment near the Streetsville GO station. living here is the best of all the worlds: a short walk to work, the feeling of a little 'town' nestled in the big city, and all less than an hour away from the bigger city, downtown Toronto.

Airdrie, Alberta is home number two, and the first of the homes i have not lived in. almost ten years ago, my parents, both born and raised in the Windsor area, decided that life was too short to live so far away from Megan, their only grandchild at the time, so they packed up everything and moved it across the country to a city just north of Calgary, with my baby brother {who was 25 at the time, and no more resembles a baby than i do George Washington.} my oldest brother followed shortly after, and now, ten years later, my family, including all the nephews who have arrived since, are firmly planted in country music land.

my parents have made a beautiful home there, and at least once a year {more if i'm lucky}, i get to visit. even though i have never lived there, it is as much home as where my kitchen table resides.

the last place i call home, and the one that—if you subtract the family element—i miss the most, is Paris, France.

the first time i went to Paris, as the airplane's wheels touched down on the french runway, i started, inexplicably to cry. i knew then, without a doubt, i was home. and with every trip, as i wander the streets, letting the history and the culture seep into my every pore, more than once being mistaken for a native Parisienne {so long as i keep my mouth closed}, i have felt more and more at home. and one day, when my kitchen table finds itself in a tiny apartment in the fifth arrondissement, then i will be able to claim that i have lived in two of the three homes of my heart.

where do you call home?



it is monday.

while i don't hate mondays as some are prone to do, they are probably my least favorite day of the week, for the same reason that summer has long been my least favorite season.

long before heat and humidity became my primary reason for wishing summer would go away, there was another reason: i hate that nothing happens as usual during the summer months. things shut down. people go away. things don't go the way that they do during the year.

when i was in school and june would roll around, as exciting as it was to have the incessant demands of teachers go away, i found it equally despairing that i would no longer see my friends every day. since the high school that i attended was in a small town, few students actually lived within walking distance, so most were bussed in... which meant seeing friends became exponentially more difficult.

i like the usual. not that i always choose to participate in it, but i like to know that it is there, happening in all its usualness. i like to know that even though i am on the other side of the country as my family, that they are getting together and having dinner and playing games on Sunday nights.

it's not that i have to participate in it. in all honesty, i'm probably more okay with not participating, but i really do want to know that somewhere out there, it's happening.

it might be kind of selfish, or not make sense at all— this wanting to know that things are going on as they normally do, and yet reserving my own freedom to do whatever unusual or uncommon things that i want... but i've never really claimed to make sense.

which brings us back to mondays. given that most of the pastors take monday as their day off, it leaves mondays feeling far from usual. there is a different feeling when the office is void of half of its usual inhabitants. not bad, just different.

unusual, if you will.



as i was writing this morning, it became clear to me that writing wasn't the only thing i was doing. even as words made their way into the composition notebook, my mind was somewhere else, rehearsing all the things that had to be done before i would be ready for work. make the bed. put last night's dishes away. clean the sink in hopes that the faucet will get fixed today. make lunch.

sometimes i wonder why i cannot simply live in the moment i am in, without feeling the weight of every other moment to come, and all that will fill those moments. i cannot help but think that if i could find a better way to live in the moment, that perhaps i would want less.

all this reminds me of this Henry David Thoreau quote that has haunted my mind for years...
i went to the woods because i wanted to live deliberately,
i wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life,
to put to rout all that was not life
and not when i had come to die
discover that I had not lived.” —Henry David Thoreau
in these moments when my focus is split, i don't think it is possible to live deliberately. like the old cliche says, you can't be two places at once. perhaps in this age of multitasking, we are losing the ability to simply focus on one thing. one person. one task. whatever is right before you in that moment.

but then the little voice creeps in, why do one when you could do more?

when i design, i usually follow the less is more approach. but living that way is something i have yet to embrace. i always want more. but then, the line that i have quoted time and time again from the movie Sabrina hits me...
more isn't always better, Linus. sometimes it's just more.
i need the wisdom to know the difference.



i once saw a t-shirt in a mall kiosk that stuck with me. even all these years later, i wish i would have purchased it {even though apart from my University of Paris t-shirt, i would never consider wearing a shirt with writing on it}, because i loved the saying so much. it said:
i only do what the voices inside my head tell me to.
even now, just typing it makes me giggle a bit.

but the humor of the shirt notwithstanding, we all have voices, both internal and external that we have to deal with daily. from friends, family, co-worker, and even our conscience, our own internal dialogue. and while these voices may not actually tell us to do things, they definitely dictate our mindset and mood, and occasionally even sabotage us.

case in point: yesterday.

if there ever was a day that happy, positive voices were needed it was yesterday. but the ones within and occasionally without, were of the critical, negative variety. couple that with the fact that i was attempting something that i have never done before, and, now i know, am not very good at, i ended up losing the battle in my own head.

i find it sad that we are so much more apt to be negative than positive. it takes more work to be positive, you actually have to be looking to see someone do something right, and then you actually have to go out of your way to comment. you don't have to look hard to see something negative to jump on. earlier this week, a friend was telling me how some work i had done had been well received, but the words that started the conversation were, "don't let this go to your head, but..." what do you think i walked away from the conversation remembering, the praise or that i appear to be capable of a pride that makes me unbearable?

but add this too-easy tendency to be negative to the fact that we are much more prone to hear and internalize the negative than the positive, and the problem becomes even worse. and while you can tell yourself that you don't need positive feedback or praise, that 'a job well done is its own reward', when the negative ones, even just little digs, start to chip away at your defenses, and wear you down to your raw and battered self, you realize how much those little cups of water can mean.

i guess, my lesson in all of this is to realize the power of my own words, and that i have the choice to impact the lives of those around me powerfully, either negatively or positively. in tuesday's Life Journal readings, these were the verses that spoke to me...
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. —Hebrews 11:23-25
i didn't realize at the time that it was going to become so relevant so soon. :-)



{i originally wrote and posted this back in 2005. but the quote has been haunting me yet again, so i thought i would update and re-share it with you.}

i love margaret becker's writing. back before she wrote books, her songs haunted me, as though she lived inside my closet, her lyrics echoing all that was going on inside me. when i read her first book, about thirteen years ago, one line of With New Eyes struck me, and has continued to stick with me over the years. it has practically become my mantra.

the most that i could ever hope to be is malleable. someone who actually listens and considers a point. someone who does not see it as a loss to concede their wrongs. someone who is not afraid to change. with change comes the ability to be strong; because when one recognizes their own fallibility, the threat of it is diminished—and the freedom of growth develops. to be wrong is to be free.

the most that i could ever hope for is to be malleable. to this day, this remains my prayer. i am well aware of how stubborn i can be. no one gets called tête de pioche as a child because she is compliant. if left unchecked, that stubborn child makes far too many appearances.

i want to be able to see where i am in the light of where i've come from, all the while envisioning where i still need to go. in short, i want to not be the same tomorrow as i am today. i don't want my relationship with God never to change me. i don't want to be someone who, at best, others tolerate, because i refuse to let myself be changed.

the most i can hope for is to be malleable.

may this always be my prayer.



how did it get so late so soon?
it's night before it's afternoon.
december is here before its june.
my goodness how the time has flewn.
how did it get so late so soon? | dr. seuss
life really does go by so very fast. sitting down to write this morning, i was struck by the feeling that it was only moments ago that i was starting a friday, and had the weekend ahead of me. and here it was, already monday, with a whole week between the next weekend and i.

how does this happen?

Psalm 90:12 has a prayer i need to pray more as i move through my days...
teach us to realize the brevity of life,
        so that we may grow in wisdom.
this is my prayer today.


favorite things...

it's been a while since i posted some of my favorite things. you may think it cheating a bit if you've sneaked a peek down to the first one, but i really don't think my favorite city in the world has ever officially made it to a favorite things fridays post...


it has been 457 days since my heart was last in the one place on earth it truly feels at home, Paris, France. in some ways the days have flown by, but lately, the length of the journey between visits is starting to wear on me.

i've been dreaming of this beautiful place. dreaming of the Rodin museum gardens, which i am sure are beautifully blooming right now. the Tuileries, and the walk through them from the Louvre to Angelina Tea Room, where africain chocolat awaits. dreaming of standing on the Champs Elysee, looking right to see the Arc de Triomphe with a faint outline of the Arc de Defense behind it, then turning left to see the Obelisk in front of the Louvre, made tiny by perspective.

but mostly, i have been dreaming about the streets of Paris, and the sheer joy that i feel just wandering through them.

i think it's time to go back...

Stacey Kent
on my first visit to Paris, while visiting the Virgin Megastore in the Carousel de Louvre, i was introduced to a recording artist that has rapidly become one of my very favorite, Stacey Kent. this American-born jazz singer has a smooth voice that i simply adore. to be honest, i would have to say that my favorite song of hers is one from the first album that i bought that day in Paris, a song called I Wish I Could Go Traveling Again. does that not sound like the theme song for my life!? {especially when you listen to the first two lines of the song: i wish i could go traveling again / it feels like the summer will never end...} kind of sums up exactly how i'm feeling right now about this brutal heat! you can listen to a clip of my favorite song here.

just a couple of months ago, Stacey released a new album, Raconte-Moi, entirely in french, which makes me so happy i am almost giddy. i haven't got it yet, but hope to soon. here is a video of one of the songs on her new album, so you can hear how absolutely brilliant she really is:

Kobo eReader
on my last trip, when i discovered New York City for the first time, my carry-on had 12 lbs. of books in it. {the fact that i wrote that sentence with a little bit of pride is very telling.} but as much as i love my books, carrying them around, especially when traveling can be wearing.

so i did research, O did i do research, just about every eReader on the market, as well as other vehicles, like the iPad, was under some pretty strong scrutiny, but in the end, i landed on the Kobo. at only $149, it was substantially more economical than the Kindle, which would have been my second choice. and while it may lack 3G wireless, i decided that a person such as myself doesn't need book buying to be made easier, or ANYWHERE! so the Kobo was my choice.

the fact that it came with 100 pre-loaded classics was a big selling point for me. carrying around all Jane Austen's books, some Dickens, not to mention War and Peace would give anyone a backache! i can also read PDFs, ones i've created, or otherwise and carry them with me as well. good times.

one other reason for going with the more economical option was that i was unsure if i would even like reading eBooks. i am a HUGE fan of paper. i love the look, the feel, the smell. i love how it feels to hold a book in your hands, and open it for the very first time, unaware of what or where the ink on the pages will bring you. so the whole eReader thing could have been a mistake of epic proportions for me.

but surprisingly, i love it! it's easy to read, i even read it on the beach in South Haven, and the fact that i daily carry 119 books around with me, always giving me something good to read makes my heart happy.

i will always love books. just because i have the eReader does not mean that i will never buy a book again. to be honest, i ordered two earlier this week! but it does mean that traveling will be considerably lighter, and this girl will never be without something to read!
* * * * *

well, these are a few of my favorite things this morning.

have a fantastic weekend, stay cool however you can!



it's hot.

just like it is in a lot of places, and if the weather-folk are to be believed, that isn't going to change any time soon.

so, instead of complaining, i am going to embrace these words of Dr. Seuss...
it's a troublesome world.
all the people who're in it
are troubled with troubles
almost every minute.
you ought to be thankful,
a whole heaping lot,
for the places and people
you're lucky you're not.
as far as life goes, i have so much to be thankful for, so very much, that regardless of what is happening in the weather, my default emotion should be gratitude.

that is today's goal, no matter what the weather network tells me.

have a most delightful day!



i don't hide the fact that summer is my least favorite season.

actually, using the words 'summer' and 'favorite' in the same sentence causes me to twitch a little, that is how little those two words have in common in my mind. it bugs me like putting the colors red and pink together. biting into styrofoam. Tim Horton's coffee.

you get the picture.

but this summer, i am determined not to merely exist during these horribly hot and humid days, which has been my modus operandi for most of the summers of my life. {with the beautiful exception of last summer, which will remain gloriously wrapped in white, sparkly tissue paper in my mind, with angels singing every time i unwrap it to remember. but i digress...}

as i was saying, this summer i am making a 'bucket list' of sorts, a list of things that by labor day, i want to have done or accomplished. these are all things that i didn't already have planned, so the 18 books that i will read don't count here.

here is my list:
  • make a whole pie from scratch. i've made lots of pies in my day, but pastry crust intimidates me. by the end of summer, i hope to have defeated this fear.
  • spend the day in Niagara Falls. i've wanted to do this for a while, but by the time the weekend usually rolls around, the practical {boring} stuff usually takes over and i don't do it. my family spent so much of our free time in Niagara Falls, that just being there reminds me of a myriad of memories.
  • sew something. for years my poor sewing machine has sat on the bottom of the bookshelf, forlornly looking at me, wondering why i no longer love it. but this summer, i want to pull it out and create something, just like the old days.
  • dinner parties. i love entertaining. i love throwing dinner parties, but for some reason, i don't do it any more. i want to have two, one in july and one in august.
  • write letters. letter writing, i fear, is a lost art. but one that i hope to revive, at least in my life. there really is nothing greater than receiving a letter in the mail. and if it's on pretty stationery, well, that's even better. i plan to write at least one a week. one is already done for this week, and it will go in the mail today.
  • visit Casa Loma. the last time i visited this gothic Toronto landmark was with my family, well before my 20th birthday. since it is the closest one can get to a european experience in the GTA, it's time i visited again.
originally i was aiming for ten things, but i think that these five six are solid, and at the end of the summer, even though it will have been hot and humid and gross, i will look back and see the good things instead of the gross ones.

what are your plans for summer?



today is my first day back to work after an 11-day vacation.

it's been a good break, even though i didn't get all that i wanted to accomplished. but the truth is, what i really needed, more than anything else, was rest. so in that sense, mission accomplished.

apart from my road trip to Michigan to visit Ang and her family, i did manage to get a few things done...
  • i cleaned my desk, and found things that had been 'missing' for ages.
  • read four and a half books.
  • baked blueberry scones.
  • tried a new recipe.
  • got my hair colored, with the accompanying relaxing massage.
  • bought a digital TV antenna, so now i can watch four stations {way better than the none i was getting!}
  • made some super yummy vanilla bean rice pudding.
  • walked lots {to counteract all the cooking!}.
  • created another design for a Christmas campaign i am working on, and this one i really like!
  • made strawberry jam.
  • wrote some long overdue notes.
so, it wasn't without its action, that's for sure, but it certainly was an enjoyable vacation, even if it was quieter than the last one.

and let me say that the weather was so perfect for me! the cool breezes every day, the perfectly cool evenings, it was like last week was solely created for my enjoyment. i am immensely grateful, and pretty happy to know that i will be spending this week indoors in my well air conditioned office.

oh, and i also created my july desktop calendar...

i hope you have a super day...

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