Category Archives: Thoughts & Questions

Big-Ass Goals

(I have to admit I giggled as I messed around with the hyphen placement in the title of this post.)

Tomorrow, my friend Zahida will be completing her first marathon. She’s been blogging about her journey along the way, and it’s been interesting to follow along and witness her ups and downs (and all the insights in between) as she trains her body and her mind for this significant experience. I can’t wait to celebrate her when she finishes this first, but probably not last, 26.2 mile race!

There’s so much about her journey that I can relate to and/or admire. Not because I’m a runner. I am NOT a runner, and I have no desire to be a runner. It’s in the grander scheme of things that Zahida’s experiences have shed some really valuable light on what it means to go after the BAGs in our lives. That’s right:

The BIG-ASS GOALSTM.

I’m sure people out there have written tomes on the marathon as a metaphor or allusion for BAGs: it’s about commitment, it’s about focus, it’s about transparency, it’s about disappointment, and it’s about faith in an end result that you can’t see but you trust will be there eventually. But I think it’s something else that has been so impressive to me about Zahida’s journey.

When you set out to do something like this, sure, you’ve got the goal in mind (well, hopefully!). You may even plan out every step you’re going to take to get there, talk to people who’ve run those 26.2 miles before, find other resources for support and encouragement. You may budget for the time and the gear it’s going to take to achieve the goal.

And then you set out.

Awesome, right?

But the thing is, you’re working really hard towards something that’s far away, all the while assuming you’re still going to want it when you get there.

What if Zahida had just flat out changed her mind and decided she didn’t want to run a marathon anymore? And should that “what if” be enough to stop her from going after it?

I think this last piece is what I myself struggle with the most when it comes to BAGs (or even signing a three-year contract with a wireless provider). I’m ok with committing to things, but only if I know I want them. What if I say I want to be an astronaut and save up for Astronaut School and then commit to five years there, only to realize halfway through—or worse, after I’ve graduated with my astronaut license!!—that I don’t want to be an astronaut after all?

What then? What about the wasted time, the wasted energy, the wasted money?

I have to be honest, I’ve discovered recently that this is something that significantly hinders me when it comes to going after the things I want.

If Zahida had decided a month ago that she didn’t feel like running after all, would it really have been a waste of her time and energy? Clearly not. She has changed in profound ways. Her body is at its fittest, her mind at its strongest, her confidence is at its highest, and she has learned a lot about who her true friends are (and just how much we love her/how awesome we are hehehe).

I don’t think I understand how good it can be for us as people to go after BAGs, even if we end up pulling a 180 or going down a different path altogether. The opportunities to grow and be refined are there either way.

Of course, I’m off my face with pride that in a few short hours, Zahida will be achieving the goal she set out to achieve—and that she still totally wants it. But either way she would have been a better version of herself, simply for the journey.

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I have awesome friends (or, how I ended up with TWO Jeans Day buttons)

I’ve hurt my knee. Well, maybe it’s more accurate to say I’ve hurt my knee again. Old football injury*.

Anyway, my knee needs some work and physio is expensive. I know, I know, first world problems, but there’s a point to this story and I’m getting there. I’m budgeting like crazy to make it work because I’m rather fond of my knee, despite how sassy it can be.

So a few days ago, it was Jeans Day, in support of BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, and many of my friends and co-workers participate annually.

A colleague asked me if I’d be wearing my jeans and I kind of laughed and said I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to afford it this year (I’m looking at YOU, knee). Later, I ended up having a similar conversation with a friend as we were firming up plans for the evening.

Well, wouldn’t you know, my friend showed up at my place a few hours later with a hot pink button! SCORE. What a sweetheart.

Flash forward to the next morning and I arrived at work to find ANOTHER hot pink Jeans Day button waiting for me! This one was a gift from my lovely colleague.

Now, at the end of the day, I probably would have found the $5 to buy a button–and I’m doing the ChildRun in June so I promise I haven’t completely forgotten about the incredible work that goes on at BC Children’s Hospital and Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children. But these were ‘wow’ moments for me. How blessed am I to have these women–and so many other fab folks–in my life? Answer: very.

For some reason, lately I’ve been in a period of reflecting on my relationships, and I often just sit back and say to myself, ‘wow, I’ve got some pretty amazing people in my corner!’ And now I’ve got the buttons to prove it!

Sidebar: I know that Jeans Day is supposed to be about the kids, but see, I’ve managed to make this about me, which is rather clever, don’t you think?

*Just kidding. It was from all the cheerleading**.

**That one’s actually true.

On direction (or lack thereof)

I was poking around on here a few days ago, for the first time in months. I’ll tell you–there might not even be one of “you” anymore–what brings me back in a moment, but anyway, I found the post below, something I had written almost a year ago and the timing could not have been more perfect.

What brings me back is a lot of… well, I don’t know if I want to call it soul-searching, but a lot of trying to figure out what my “ant thing” is, or at least something along those lines. (Read the post below if you have no idea what I’m talking about when I say “ant thing.”) So often when I end up in career conversations with people whom I love, I ask them, “What makes you feel alive?” or “What do you feel like you’ve been built to do?” And if they tell me, I respond by advising them to do just that. The advice is not so easy, however, when turned inwards. Are you kidding? That’s scary? What if people judge me? Reject me? Or [gasp] don’t LIKE me???????

Paulo Coelho, whom I affectionately (and jokingly) refer to as my distinguished Brazilian boyfriend*, talks a lot about the notion of the Personal Legend. He writes, “When you desire your Personal Legend, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it.” There’s a lot out there these days about manifesting your own destiny; i.e., if you truly believe it will happen, it WILL happen. I think people tend to read Coelho–er, my boyfriend–‘s words and think them to mean that if we can only set our minds to it, we can make it happen. But, I don’t think this is what he’s talking about at all.

I believe the Personal Legend is that thing or set of things that is so intrinsically part of who each of us is. It’s what we are here to do, to learn, to achieve, it’s the journey we are to take, all that stuff. And while I certainly believe in free choice, I also believe that we have certain skills, personalities, strengths and limitations, and those largely dictate what we are built to do. Not what we necessarily choose to do, mind you (see “choice, free”) but nonetheless what we’ve been designed to do. And I don’t think that means we can’t be good at things that we haven’t been “built” to do. What I DO think it means, though, is that it will never feel quite the same as how it feels when you experience the peace, joy, fear, thrill, exhilaration, and expectancy of your Personal Legend.

Makes me wonder if those people who are absolutely miserable while chasing their dreams are chasing the wrong dreams altogether, if the universe is conspiring to not help them achieve those dreams because it knows (God knows) that it would lead to disaster.

It makes perfect sense to me that desiring my Personal Legend–that is, aligning ourselves with God’s beautiful and unique plan for me–would feel as though the whole universe has got my back (yo). I don’t for one second think that a life spent pursuing the Personal Legend is a life free of strife or struggle, but in the midst of all the crap, there is still something that feels so right about it, that you know you’re at least heading in the right direction. Something in your soul cries “YES” even though you are wondering what the heck you’re doing on this road, or desperate to exit stage left.

For me it’s become a process of elimination. I know what makes me feel alive, and conversely, what makes me feel dead. I think the Spirit of God has a lot of refining to do with me before I even have eyes to see specifically what it is I’m looking at, let alone gather the courage to go after it. But one of the things that keeps coming back to me is this: I love to write. I love everything from telling the story to creating a grammatically beautiful sentence. Heck, I even like the physical act of scraping my pen across a page.

Is it my ant thing? Will I glorify God by doing it? Maybe (I hope so!). I mean, maybe I’m wrong, but there’s always going to be a change that I’m wrong. So while my last few attempts to maintain a blog have been for entertainment purposes (I know, how silly!), this time around, I’m making a commitment to myself, and to what just might be my Personal Legend. I need the practice. I think we generally hold that we need at least 10,000 hours of practice, and I assume our Personal Legends aren’t exempt from this. Sweet. If I’m right, I’ve now only got 9,999.5 hours to go!

*I love him. Love, love, love, love, love. Normal people have the hots for Brad Pitt. I have the hots for old Brazilian men.

Let’s talk. Let’s ta-a-a-alk. Let’s talk.

As a group, we realized–just as the organizers had hoped–that much of what impeded true progress in the field was that we were using different terminology to mean the same thing, and in many cases, we were using a single word (such as ‘timing’) to mean very different things, and following very different elementary assumptions.

The idea behind such a gathering is that if the people who are world experts in the topic–often contentiously holding opposite views–can come to some sort of an agreement about certain aspects of the problem, science can move forward more quickly.

I was reading my morning dose of This is Your Brain on Music, and these passages in particular caught my attention.

What would happen if people holding different views actually engaged in dialogue, rather than holding at arms length those whom we have labeled “the other”? And what if–gasp!–we actually tried to solve some problems together?

Y’know, I’m just thinking, the potential rewards are huge!

On Science vs. God

I mentioned briefly that I was reading Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain. I’ve since finished it, and found it infinitely interesting, and a totally great read! There was one thing, however, that frustrated me, something I encounter all too often. Sacks recalls a visit from one of his patients:

What did I think, in the end, of his story, Dr. Cicoria asked me. Had I ever encountered anything similar? I asked him what he thought, and how he would interpret what had happened to him. He replied that as a medical man he was at a loss to explain these events, and he had to think of them in “spiritual” terms. I countered that, with no disrespect to the spiritual, I felt that even the most exalted states of mind, the most astounding transformations, must have some physical basis or at least some physiological correlate in neural activity.

It looks to me as though Sacks, a self-professed “old Jewish Atheist” is presenting that argument, that mind-boggling argument, that science and God cannot co-exist.

When I think of the structure of an argument, I think of the classic “a=b; b=c; therefore a=c”. After you’ve determined that, you can say things like, “we’ve established that a=c, so therefore it follows that x, y and z.”

In the case of the science vs. God argument, all the time I see things like, “Science disproves God, so therefore it follows that:
– You can’t believe in science and God
– Truly intelligent people shouldn’t believe in God
– God / faith / spirituality / religion has no place in academia
– etc.”

Well, with no disrespect to people like Sacks (and I am fully convinced that he in particular is probably a genius), but how did we manage to conclude that God and science can’t co-exist, when there is so little, if anything, to support that conclusion?

Am I missing something here? If supporting evidence exists, would someone point me in the right direction?

I find it shocking that people as brilliant as Sacks can make such assertions without really backing them up, especially when they are so concerned with backing things up with evidence. It’s ironic indeed that I don’t see any convincing evidence, and yet the so-called lack of evidence seems to be one of the qualms held against God-based belief systems.

Here are some thoughts:
– Why would God not use earthly systems and materials to create? Why wouldn’t He choose to determine rules and laws about how things work here on earth? And why wouldn’t he make things discoverable to us?

– One of the names of God is Father. Like a proud parent, I believe God delights in us discovering our world and how things work, even if it takes us a really, really long time sometimes.

– Science and human discovering, as far as I’m concerned, further affirms God’s character as shown in Scripture. God gave us brains for a reason. If He wanted a bunch of mindless drones worshipping Him, He wouldn’t have given us the capacity to seek, question, push, discover and then choose to believe something, to believe in Him, and love Him by our own free will.

– Just because science can prove something doesn’t mean it is not from God. When did people start subscribing to that fallacious notion? I have to admit I can’t quite wrap my head around it.

– A cool example: Recent examination of the Shroud of Turin has produced an amazing hypothesis–that Jesus may have been raised using radiation. How cool is THAT???? That God would use something that we are now learning more and more about and using in our own healing therapies, to perform the greatest miracle and exhibition of love in the entire universe?

– I think the more we learn about from science, the more we are exposed to some of the amazing things that God has created, from laws to rules, energies to matter. What I DON’T think we learn from science is that God doesn’t exist.

I think perhaps people confuse the idea of “science means that there is no God” with “science means that we have no need for God“. That latter is also a disturbing fallacy, but we’ll save that for another time.

Anyway.

Just one reason why I love Jen Lemen

So there’s this woman named Jen Lemen.  I don’t know much about her, except for what she writes in her blog.  I can’t even remember how I stumbled upon it in the first place, I only know that she is a source of great encouragement and inspiration for me.  You know that poster with the cat that says, “Hang in there, baby”?  I imagine the person who created that concept is a lot like Jen Lemen.  Optimistic, wise, and just oozing with love, except oozing is such an unpleasant sounding word.  Radiating and percolating and flowing with love. Especially dear to me of late is this post.  Particularly:   

He leaned back now, letting his hands swing into the air like a preacher giving a sermon. “People have lost their minds. We forget we’re part of one family, that we’re all connected.” He put the emphasis on forget and family, driving the point home. “We act like we don’t belong to each other, like we’re not brothers and sisters.”

Heck YES. 

Old people have mad skills…

  

[Alternate title: “You are worth my time.  I find you interesting and I want to know more about you.”]

My grade 11 English teacher was from Russia, and I was privileged to hear her stories of her life there, the way the government took away her citizenship, and how she arrived in Canada “stateless.”  One of the things she said she found most difficult in terms of adjusting to life in Canada was the “Hey, how are you?”  Here, we say it in passing, as we’re zooming by someone, never expecting anything other than “Good, you?”  She used to stop and say something like, “well I’m doing alright; I had a lovely evening last night; me and my daughter went to…” only to realize that the person was down the hall and out of ear shot.  It’s become little more than an alternative to “hi” (or “sup” if you’re from da ‘hood, as I am :p).  Is it a North American habit?  Are we too busy on this side of the Atlantic to stop and see how our beloved fellow persons are? 

But maybe it’s a generational thing?  I work with a number of people who are really… well, old (hee-hee, forgive me ladies!).  They’ve got it right.  When they ask me how I’m doing, they actually want to know how I’m doing.  They want to sit with me for two minutes and get caught up on my life, and then they want to tell me how they’ve been keeping since I last saw them.  It’s so precious, and I don’t mean that in a patronizing way.  It really is precious, and I think they’ve got the right idea! 

I like the term, doing life together.   I am practicing this!  I am a student of doing life together.  Woo hoo!