Friday, December 20, 2013

the holiday season is hard for a lot of folks ... for a lot better reasons than mine

i find the holiday season difficult. i didn't always but i do now. it's hard to see people struggle like i have and it's just as hard that i don't see much joy in the season itself either. i loved Christmas growing up, truly loved it. we never did have much and i don't actually remember ever being "rocked" by whatever amazing gift i received or gave. it was still a fun time of year though. maybe it was the idea that i didnt have to be in school for a period of time and i could go play street hockey. maybe it was that i could go skate and play tag in the frozen ditch where saplings had grown amongst frozen water that had collected there over a long and wet autumn. we'd chase one another amongst frozen trees in some deserted and undeveloped subdivision near our house. i remember it as a completely genuine and hilarious experience.
i did love the holiday season though. somewhere there is still a germination of that feeling.
i find "get-togethers" difficult nowadays though, or rather get-togethers that require me to help host or prepare for the hosting of it. i freeze up and find it hard to know what i should be doing in order to prepare for the party.

it might be the expectation of it all.
it might be the thought that if it all doesnt come off like it should then i'll be standing there with egg on my face.
there was one Halloween where my sister's friend invited my sister and me over to her house for a party. we actually got dressed in costumes where my sister and i tried to coordinate ourselves, we showed up as Raggedy Ann and Andy. we were set up pretty well by my recollection. i remember being dropped off for the party and running up to the door (somewhat self-consciously) with my sister in preparation for a fun celebration. the mother of the house answered the door and looked at us with a puzzled look since she knew nothing of what we were talking about.
i can't tell you what happened after that. i honestly don't remember a single thing about the incident. we may've called for our parents to come pick us up again and take us home. i may've walked home (although i doubt that i did that all decked out as Raggedy Andy). we may've continued to hang out at the friend's place after something like that. i can't believe that i don't remember a single thing that happened after that. the incident was either completely uneventful or i guess i repressed whatever embarrassment i endured after that.

Wendy and i hosted our seed group for a Christmas potluck last week. i didn't find the prep work for the party to be an easy experience for me. Wendy actually gave me no chore to do that was difficult or anything that i had not done as part of any regular cleaning of our home on any given day ... and yet i was anxious, grumpy and near an anxiety attack. once the work was done i sat in our dining room and tried to think of why it is that i find such things hard to do.
it's a stupid story. i was embarrassed in an incident as a child. i do wonder if it has prevented me from putting myself "out there" over the years since. i attend and take part in parties, and for the most part i enjoy them ... if i don't have to stand in the limelight.
i still enjoy the holiday season. i also find it difficult. i suppose i don't put myself on the line much anymore, not like i would've as a preteen. i'm less creative than perhaps i could've/should've been over the years.
is it just about wanting to avoid embarrassment? maybe it is. i can't discount that idea. it has been a sticking point in my life though. maybe its just an example of something stupid that happened to some kid. having said that though it's certainly not a hurdle that cannot be cleared. feeling the fear of a situation and doing it anyway is still a viable approach to dealing with anxiety situations. i've seen that work in my own life.
i'm still not at all sure that i want to be the center of attention or the one responsible for seeing a major task to completion however.
maybe i'm just trying to process my own way through some of my own anxieties. maybe i'm just looking for excuses to cover for my own foibles.

ah, the joys of repression.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

birthday addendum

Wendy suggested i buy some vanilla ice cream on my way home from work so i did that and came home to a kickass supper of chili cheese fries and the most amazing sort of cherry crumble i've had in forever. we hunkered down to watch a movie and to hang out. overall it was a wonderful evening for which i'm very grateful. she had gotten my an amazing Maple Leafs hoodie which she came out modelling herself. i almost insisted that she keep it on because she looked wonderful in it but it would've been much to warm an experience for her to spend too much time wearing it.
i shared with her a little of my struggle that day and she understood me.
i love you dear.

Monday, December 2, 2013

wishes and regrets

today is my 47th birthday.
i'm struggling today actually. struggling with my "issues". i have an anxiety disorder and it could just be that my struggle is over a little "undigested potato" as a MUCH better writer once phrased it. i do wonder if too much sugar and caffeine really does affect my sleep at night or whether my soul just comes out from its shell and points to regret and pain that the rest of me has ignored.
Wendy gave me a huge smile and a hearty wish this morning and that is no small task at 7am when you have no real desire to be awake to the world in the first place. she has class today though (she's the lab instructor) and she said that she wanted to be present for whatever reason and was a bit concerned about getting ready to be there on time.
i woke at 1am with a horrible forboding, lost in my own anxiety.
it is completely impossible to see the goodness of life in those moments. i have felt completely alone and unloved. i cannot find God and my heart is completely unsure that i'll ever be able to know him again. much of my spiritual journey of late is anchored in community, in the church and not in my search for God. when i see God i see him in those around me but i have wanted more.
i am no longer convinced that God is faithfully involved in lives. that doesn't affect my own efforts to involve myself in serving others but it gets to the point that i used to do such things in my search for closer unity with God while now the argument can be made that we do such things because we are simply good. i do good things because i'm a good man. i have my flaws, they're more like significant chasms in which once can get lost for life actually. don't go thinking that i'm a "works" guy though, i know fully that there's nothing in this chest that is really all that good in the first place.
a friend in my church community, a Jeremiah archetype, spoke to me yesterday of sorrow and mourning and it's place in our lives. he and i have both known our own wilderness experiences so when he speaks on this topic i tend to listen more intently. on some level i relate although my struggle is not his. he could certainly accuse God of being unfaithful to him but i have never heard him say those words. he has known loss and he has sat in the dark amidst his own sorrow and tears for far too long. i don't really want to relate to that. i would much rather say, enough pain already when do i get to see some light?
don't get me wrong. there is abundant goodness in my life. i am truly blessed in that i have luxury galore and a secure life. it certainly seems like the height of presumption to ask for the absence of pain on top of all the grace i have seen in my 47 years. when i am stuck in my own anxiety however, i can see none of that.
i tried to express some of that at worship yesterday. i spoke of Joshua crossing the Jordan and how i wished to take the stones around me to mark my spot as i came to another marking point in my lifetime. i chose as my song to sing in celebration of another birthday "Here by the Water" because the words of it resonated with me. i hoped to suggest that i was coming out of my own wilderness experience just as Joshua did.

Here by the water, I'll build an altar to praise you, out of the stones that I find here. I'll set them down here, rough as they are, knowing you can make them holy.

and yet, my perspective is more about the fact that i have survived my wilderness this far and i hope that i have indeed come out on the other end of it. i don't know that i have come out on the other end though, and that may be where my anxiety lies. i've got to think that my experience is vastly different than Joshua's since the focus of his prayer is in thankfulness for the faithfulness of God ... and my heart yearns to be consoled and to know that experience. i know that God is faithful, i just don't KNOW it right now.
i'm certainly not promised an easy ride, and i also have not experienced one.
so i still feel a bit lost in the dark. my experience with my community as i tried to express some of these thoughts has been one of overflowing love and support. those who have known me best expressed their love for me as they recognize my struggle. they have missed me as i wallowed in my own resentment and bitterness and they have told me so whenever they got the chance.
i have missed my community, and i also have not missed them. the introverted me prefers to be left alone to sort and to try and address my own things in my own manner but the community me wishes to contact, to be together, to play and laugh and wrap my arms around those closest to me and tell them of my deep affection for all that they are to me. i suppose i'm just looking for someone to love me. i'm always looking for that. it's a neediness that embarrasses me but is also very much necessary for my own ongoing growth.
i do know that you love me though. i do know that. i suppose on some level i'm talking to God there. i'll struggle on.
peace to you my friends. peace to me too.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

purpose in life does not equal achievement

i've struggled for some time now trying to determine what place (if any) there is in my life for ambitious behaviour. on one hand it speaks to growth, a desire to improve my situation and to share my own gifts in my own circles but on the other hand it could also upset the apple cart if you're basically content (like me) with how things are.
this struggle is seen almost exclusively in my vocational life right now. it comes from a belief that i could do well if i moved up the ladder and on some level a belief that i deserve something like that. it also has some significant drawbacks though. a change of job description would mean that i'm not working with the people groups that i'm presently working with. essentially i'd go from a place where i feel like i'm helping the poor toward getting past their barriers and onward to a better life (hopefully) just so i could become the guy helping the folks who are helping the poor. it'd mean that i'd become a manager advising the rich on how better to manage helping the poor.
don't get me wrong, i fully believe that i'd be very good as a manager and i do have some expertise that i can impart to people so they can be more effective. i already know however that i'm good at what i do and i already know the level of fulfillment that i experience in the chair that i'm sitting in.
my seed group in my church community is fully involved in a study of Voluntary Simplicity. Wendy had what i thought was a great thought when we started into this seed group saying "since our lives are so full of involuntary complexity it'd be nice to have a little voluntary simplicity". i chuckled when she said it because it couldn't be more true for us. our life together is full of all sorts of tasks, rules, complexities and safeguards so that regularly i just want to be a hermit and run off to find a little personal order. anyway, voluntary simplicity tries to speak to a counter-cultural approach to living our lives together on this earth. it centers on values (hopefully our own values) that say that it isn't necessary to acquire everything in our search for belonging, for community, for life. the moments where you have felt the most connection to the world around you most likely had to do with your relationships or with the natural world around you anyway and nothing to do with acquiring whatever it is that you wanted to acquire. it speaks to a desire to purge our lives of the unnecessary, to live more simply and to share our meager but most prized possessions, our lives themselves.
i was sitting in seed group a couple of weeks ago when someone pulled out a quote from the book we're trying to walk through together as part of our study. the quote said ...

Purpose in life does not equal achievement.

it stopped me short.
there's probably a decent chance that i'm taking the author out of context but i immediately made a little tangent to my own struggle to determine what place ambition has in my life.
achievement although wonderful in its own right, is fleeting. you are forgotten just as soon as the next person with the next achievement comes along. purpose in life is a different goal however. it doesn't mean that purpose in life cannot be found in achievement but at least for me achievement needs to include purpose in life, otherwise what am i really doing with that? a raise in salary is always helpful but i really do think that some people undervalue how important it is to be happy in the work that we do.
i'll likely still keep trying to move up the ladder, but i'm also going to be careful. the relationships to those around me and the world around me really do help to determine my own purpose in life and i won't just discount that because i want a little more recognition.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

thinking of you

a dear, dear friend is in the hospital fighting what may be the toughest medical battle of her life. i don't know what to say other than "i love you" and i don't know what to do other than to think and pray for her during this tough time.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

the bigger man

a man apologized to me today.  he said that he had been just sick about the "incident" between us and i did my best to forgive him.  in truth i had already forgiven him in my heart but i had needed to speak with him to process our dispute formally.  there would be no real processing though because we had each regretted that our encounter had ended the way that it did.
a man looked me flat in the face today and respectfully, thoughtfully, honestly proved how big a man he is.  his vulnerability and respect for relationships impressed me.  how seriously he takes the modelling of an example for young people will keep me impressed no end.
this is a true human.  he deserves my respect and he has it.  he's the bigger man.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Orphans of God

i will rise from my bed
with a question again
as i work to inherit the restless wind
the view from my window
is cold and obscene
i want to touch what my eyes have not seen

but they packaged our virtue
in cellulose dreams
and sold us the remnants til our pockets are clean
til our hopes fall 'round our feet
like the dust of dead leaves
and we end up looking like what we believe

we are soot covered urchins
running wild and unshod
we will always be remembered as the Orphans of God
they will dig up these ruins
make flutes of our bones
and blow a hymn to the memory of the Orphans of God

like bees in a bottle
we're flying at faith
beating our wings against the walls of this place
unaware that the struggle
is the blood of the proof
in choosing to believe the unbelievable truth

they have captured our siblings
they have rendered them mute
disputed our lineage and poisoned our roots
we have bones from the broken
who have broken their oaths
and we're out on the street with a lump in our throats

we are soot covered urchins
running wild and unshod
we will always be remembered as the Orphans of God
they will dig up these ruins
make flutes of our bones
and blow a hymn to the memory of the Orphans of God

a hymn to the memory of the Orphans of God

                                    - Mark Heard

Friday, June 28, 2013

one more time

variations on a theme i think but i woke up with this song in my head this morning.  in a world where disadvantaged are asking for some help i'd like to challenge to go a little deeper.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

on the sticks

last night was my first game manning the sticks at a CFL game.  it was VERY cool.  the field is awesome, they've made 30,000 seats look really cozy and the setup is such that the place is just rocking in terms of noise level all game long. 
if you look carefully at about 830 in this pic you can see a couple orange markers along the sidelines, i'm holding one of those markers.  can you see me?  i'm waving at you right now.  really, look again.  ok so maybe i'm not waving but i'm there.
traffic was brutal and that's pretty much most of the news from this event.  seating for 30,000 and assigned parking for about 6000.  thankfully as a support official i get a parking pass, i can't imagine how long it would've taken me to get to the game if i didn't have a parking pass available to me.  as it was it took me 10 minutes to walk from my lot to the bowels of the stadium where i was supposed to go, not counting the time it took while i got lost looking for the right room.  still, i made it and thankfully the Head Linesman only mocked me a little for the fact that he got saddled with a rookie for the first game in the stadium.
very cool night.  i didnt get to sleep until midnight i was running around so much.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

king and lionheart

sure hope this works, it's been a long time since i've figured out how to do this

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


it is during the anxious times of waiting to see if i will get what i want that i find i pray the most.  that's not how i want to be though.  i don't want to treat God like a magic genie who's job it is to provide me with my 3 wishes, the first of which would be to have unlimited wishes.  prayer should be about the search for balance on my daily journey and the ability to adapt to the changing circumstances that come my way.  sometimes i'm pleased to say that i live in that balance and i commune with God and all around me but there are other days where i live in the anxiety of what could be and what i would like to be.
i interviewed for a supervisor's position yesterday.  there are 2 positions available and the Ian who's interested in growth would very much like to take on the challenge of one of those positions.  i really do believe that i'm the right choice and i want those in authority to recognize it also.  at the same time however, there are many folks who could/would be good choices.
oh to live in contentedness.  actually, i do live in contentedness.  i'm happy where i am but i also want to see growth in this plant that is earthed in fertile ground with a temperate climate and a caregiver who wants good things for me.
no more magic genie stuff though.  give me balance God.

Monday, May 13, 2013


it looks like i haven't written here in 5 months.  don't take it personally, i've been really busy and life is stressful on a regular basis. 
we're renovating, i'm applying for a supervisor's job and Wendy and i don't always work well together when something needs to get done because i think we both like to run the show.  i'm the more laid-back one but i think i find it hard to take direction from one i love.  i really must work on that.
our renovations will include a complete revamping of half of the house and an addition on the back.  i'll remain living at the house while the work goes on too.  it looks like i'll never be able to retire and i sure hope our contractors 2 children appreciate the fact that essentially i'll be putting them through college paying off this bill.  the work is a necessity however.  it is a hope that we can create an environment that is more Wendy-friendly that includes much less of the materials that Wendy reacts to with her sensitivities and creates an oasis where she can survive.
i have an interview for a supervisor's position tomorrow.  it has been a bit of an adventure for me to try to figure out the place of ambition in my life.  i'm happy in my work, i'm good at my work and i worry that if i seek to change my situation i might upset the apple cart as it were.  growth is a good thing though and that's why i'm working on it.  part of me trusts that i'll be led where i need to go and part of me just says it isn't about being led at all and whatever would be is a good place to be.  a statement like that would've boggled the Ian of 20 years ago since he really held to the idea of the grand scheme of things and God leading us by the hand.  the Ian of today probably accepts that God wants good things for his children and is more concerned with just how open i am to the twists and turns of life.  i think its more about sensitivity to the things around you then it is a concern about staying where God you to be.  God can use us wherever we are so concentrate on things that give fulfillment, on places that give you life.  screw the "rules", God is bigger than the rules.  ok, sermon over.
baseball season has started up for me so that means i'm heading into the busiest time of the year.  not exactly great timing in light of all the other stresses in my life.  adapt or die though.  it's a good thing that i have a really good support structure and decent coping mechanisms in place.