This is what I do, don't try to understand how I do it; I don't really know either

Previous generations didn’t talk about things. Sex and feelings are the top two that I see that were taboo. That void has resulted in misunderstanding, missing out, hurt, an inability to navigate relationships, and mental heath issues. Since these conversations were never embarked upon, we don’t know how to have them or start them.

I’m proud of my generation for wanting something different, something more. We’re not sure how to do it so we screw it up all the time but at least we’re trying and have opened the way for younger generations to take it further and maybe get it right.

I have talked with my children about my passion for this next stage of my life to be encapsulated but the Swahili word – Nakuona. It means I see you. People need to feel seen. This morning my youngest son said “mom, yesterday the cat ran away from me and my sister didn’t want to play and I felt unseen” oh my heart lept for joy. He’s getting it and I have taught him that vocabulary for his feelings. Brene Brown uses the term “rumble” for engaging in a difficult conversation. She also uses “the story I am telling myself” and I am really trying to make those part of my vocabulary.

It’s like we now have our own language between us so we can communicate our feelings. We can work through things. I explained to him that the cat ran away because he was angry and stomping around so that scared the cat. We could then talk about how to be angry and not scare others – something that we can learn together because I suck at that.

We need to give each other words. There is power in words. There is a freedom when I can speak my truth. It’s hard. Telling someone that I had been abused was hard but I found the words and it freed me. I can’t heal if I am silent. I am excited that I have private languages with people in my life. My kids especially but even my best friend and I can text one letter to each other and it means a whole lot of things that we both understand. There are lots of languages I can’t speak, but if your willing to teach me I would love to learn yours and I will do my best to teach you mine. It is then that I see you. Nakuona


Eshet Chayil

It is amazing how someone you have never met can have such a profound impact on your life. Rachel Held Evans gets to party with Jesus now and I feel like I lost a friend. Her writing encapsulated many, especially women, who struggled with their faith, doubt, and the church. She helped us to find hope, to know that we were not alone in the struggle, and to not give up.

I remember reading A Year of Biblical Womanhood and it was like it connected to my soul, the very core of my being. She helped me see scripture in a new way that made me feel more confident in who I was, how I was created, and how I fit with the body of Christ. I learned from her that the “Proverbs 31 woman” wasn’t a list of expectations of who I am to be. Growing up,  Christian women were compared to that list and I always felt that I never measured up. Her research liberated me from those expectations and allowed me to celebrate all my victories – Eshet Chayil. I printed those words and they hang on my wall to remind me that I AM a woman of valor.

Several months ago I picked up her newest book Inspired and my children and I have been reading it slowly during our devotions. It has sparked amazing conversations about the Bible and its stories.  Her faith journey resonates with so many because it’s what so many of us have experienced. She talks about how unacceptable it has been to ask question or challenge theological beliefs but we ALL have them. She makes it ok to have questions and still hold your faith – something that was not permitted before. If you questioned then you were not a believer and if you were a believer then you didn’t question.

This is a huge loss to the world. I don’t understand God’s soverignty, what He allows and what He doesn’t. In this instance, like many others in my life, I will allow Him to be God and accept that I will not understand until I get to be with Him. I will also allow Him to be my comforter and pray comfort for Rachel’s family and friends in this very challenging time of loss.

Going somewhere

I have never liked flying. I still don’t really, but it’s been too long since I was last on a plane. I have a short business trip and even though I am not leaving the country I’m happy to be on a plane. Again, I’m not a fan of flying but it means I am going somewhere. I really like to be going somewhere.

There have been a lot of changes in life the last year and they are not finished yet. It takes time to process and adjust to change and I have just wanted to move ahead. This week will be good to have time to process. Soon I will only have to travel with one laptop not two. I’m looking forward to that but there is a grief with letting go. It’s easier when you have something to grab onto – maybe thats why people have rebound relationships so often.

A wise friend has encouraged me that when people ask where I am going to – to tell them that I am going to me. I’m going to take time. It’s been much needed time but taking time is not comfortable to me. I know it’s necessary and healthy.

I’m staring into a blank canvas and I get to decide what to paint. I already know my colors but I don’t know exactly what is going to appear. I’m not an artist but I believe they take time to conceptualize before they start. This is my conceptualization and preparation time.

I’ll take it and when the time is right I’m going somewhere.

I’m Brave and I Won

Gosh, I love Brene Brown.

She makes me feel courageous. She gives me the inspiration to be brave, the permission to fail, and the drive to live vulnerably. I just watched her Netflix special (WATCH IT). I had been counting the days until it was live and today was the day, and my heart needed it. I have been wrestling with my vulnerability, as you do when you are hurt and rejected, but vulnerability is how I live and breathe. I don’t want to be any other way.

She says that daring greatly is having the courage to show up when you don’t know the outcome. I have dared greatly and it has not paid off in the hoped-for outcome. I chose to love and then love again and both of those relationships ended with my heart being shattered. I was very aware they were both high risk, but if they had worked out it would have been worth it.

But neither worked out so does that mean I failed? Yeah, kind of. The relationships certainly failed. But Brene tells a story about how winning isn’t always about being first to the finish line. Sometimes winning is to get on the blocks and get wet. So I won. I showed up and I chose to love, not knowing the outcome. She says that you can’t let yourself be loved if you don’t let yourself be seen. I put myself out there and I was me, good and bad, and I let myself be seen. That’s winning no matter what the other person chose. I want to be a person who sees and is seen. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt – because it SURE AS HELL DOES. Every single day. You can’t be vulnerable and avoid pain.

I am terrified to get into a relationship again. It is true that I don’t need a man, but that’s different than being closed off to it. The story I tell myself (you’ll get that line if you watch the show) is that I should have known better, I should have been smarter than to love the way I did. There were signs things wouldn’t work out and I ignored them. I realized today though that there will always be “signs” because nothing and no one is perfect. This doesn’t mean you turn a blind eye to everything, but it means I am watching me talk myself out of a relationship before it’s even begun because I am scared.

I don’t want to hurt again, especially not like this, but I don’t ever want to live in a castle. Vulnerability is our path back to each other – Brene. I quit my job and I am looking for what is next in my life. I have no idea what that is because I have applied to about 14 other opportunities and nothing is happening yet, but whatever it is, is going to be in the direction of seeing people. I started working on ideas and I have given my vision for the next stage of my life the name Nakuona because in Swahili it means “I see you.”

I am going to connect with people and show them that it’s good to be brave, that vulnerability is strength and it’s how we will all heal together.

Put Your Hard Shoes On

I am in an interesting place. It’s a place of opportunity, a place of seeking, a place of dreaming but also grief, loss, change, uncertainty, and pain. In this place I am continuing to read Dallaire’s, Shake Hands with the Devil, but I needed a counter balance and so I started Philip Yancey’s, Where’s God When it Hurts?

Sometimes life takes you off-balance, or the course as you thought it would be, so I am looking for direction towards my specific purpose. Getting here has taken some very hard decisions, but I refuse to live a life of mediocraty. I want more, I want to do more and to be more, because I know I am capable and worth it. I will not settle for anything less anymore. It’s my time. But it’s hard and painful and slower than I would like it to be.

I get stronger. Every. Single. Day.

But, there are still days when I doubt I will make it, I worry and I am afraid. Yancey writes about a Dr. who was a pastoral counselor who was asked how he cures his patients of fear and he said, “I don’t. Everything that’s worthwhile in life is scary. Choosing a school, choosing a career, getting married, having kids – all those things are scary. If it is not fearful, it is not worthwhile,” (emphasis mine).

Wow – that’s a bold statement and way to live, and it’s how I want to live, because to me any other way is not actually living – it is existing. I dont want to exist, I want adventure, I want to make a difference. I do not seek recognition while I am here but I want the world to notice when I am gone, because what I did and how I lived my life mattered. I read advice written to a young man and it encouraged him to choose a girl who gave him the most colorful life imaginable. I hope I do that or have done that. I hope as I have been in your life that I help to open up the opportunity for you to live. I can’t make you do it but I hope I show you what living really is. How scary and difficult and painful and WORTH IT ALL.

You will make the choice for you. I have made mine. I have no idea what the future has in store. I don’t know which of the opportunties will open for me but I knew I had to let go in order to move forward. So I did and I am mid freefall, and I’m ok.

I take Irish dance now. It is amazing. The movement, the music, it grounds me. It makes me feel like I know who I am. I am Irish. We are strong. We take on giants. We do things that we are afraid of, we challenge and fight the good fight. We don’t ever give up.

Every week I am reminded of this, everytime I put on my hard shoes. Erin Go Bragh

Human beings are selfish.

By nature we seem to gravitate to anything that brings us pleasure or happiness. We are sold the lie that life is about the pursuit of happiness, therefore whatever does not make us happy is not of value. We are to look for our own best interests and that it’s good to be kind to others, but not at our expense.

I am half way through a class on Governance, and the class has really been exploring all the benefits and ideals of a democracy. I clearly see the positive aspects, but as I begin reading General Romeo Dallaire’s book “Shake Hands With the Devil” and I listen to him speak about how we failed, AND continue to fail, I realized the downside to democracy.

Democracy means that leadership and government are decided by the votes of the people. As I stated, people are selfish. I cry often since Sunday when I watched Hotel Rwanda and think about the loss of life that people were indignant to. I watched General Dallaire in a video today after getting a vaccination (so I can again travel to Africa) and he talks about how we are more guilty today than we were back then, countries like Maynmar and Syria are current examples.

I realized that saving lives of people in other countries does not win the popular vote. Look how hesitant countries were to engage in WW2 and save the Jews. NO ONE in the international community came to the aid of the Tutsi people – they literally had to save themselves. People in the developed world are comfortable in their homes and maybe have a sponsor child photo pinned to their fridge, but people are dying. Politicians want to get re-elected and stepping into a conflict wins favor with no one, but that doesnt mean it’s not the right thing to do. The right thing to do is sometimes to disobey orders: thank you General Dallair for the 32,000 lives you saved in doing so. The right thing to do is important even if it is not popular. Human beings have value.

I am confronted with the fact that these battles are not over. People are dying and many don’t care and even more don’t understand. I want my life to reflect the fact that I valued human life – all human life. The ONE campaign has a saying: “where you live shouldn’t determine whether you live.” I was blessed to be born in Canada and have the freedoms, resources, and liberties that I do. I am going to use all of them to benefit those who were not born here with the same things I was.

I also want to be very clear that every country has its issues. Canada does not have all its problems solved. Africa is built with amazing countries. I have been to 7 of them and I was blown away at how majestic and culturally rich they are. They too have issues and the majority of extreme poverty reside there, so that is where we focus projects, but just because they have extreme poverty does not mean they don’t have anything to offer.

I get asked often when I will go back and the only answer I can give right now is, not soon enough.

Rwanda 1994

Estimated one million people slaughtered viciously because they were told they were different. Once the killing started no one came to help. They were not given value by the world because they were African.

I will never waiver that we are human before we are anything.

We are human before we are African or North American.

We are human before we are male or female.

We are human before we are black or white or brown.

Today I watched Hotel Rwanda. I had never seen it before. It is different to watch it and to have been there last year, in the country and at the hotel.

The most horrible line from the movie is given by a man who filmed footage of the massacres and got it out of the country. The hotel owner believed that if the world saw what was going on they would take action. The man said, “If they see this footage they will say oh my god that’s horrible and go on eating their diner.”

I was in grade 10 at the time and I knew nothing about the genocide until I was in my late 20’s.

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who will choose to eat their diner and those who will do whatever means necessary to help others.

I will teach my children about the horrors of the world because we must remember, because we must never continue to eat our diner. I don’t want to be that kind of person. A person who does not recognize humanity.

You may never touch a machete, but you are just as guilty of the babies slaughtered in their mothers arms because as a world we did nothing. We all failed the people of Rwanda.

When I was there I realized how much we can learn from them, and not just the lesson of our disgraceful apathy. A lesson of humanity.

If you ask the question now, are you a Hutu or Tutsi – they will answer, I am Rwandan. They all answer I am Rwandan. They are no longer divided but one people as they always should have been.

May we learn from the Rwandans that we are united, not divided.

We are all humans first.