Tuesday, January 17, 2012

for one good breath

Every summer of my youth, I worked up at a church camp. I met too many people to count. Counsellors, staff, clergy, families and campers. So many campers. Not only is it a residential - sleep-away - camp, entire families visit, staying in tents or trailers. Some families would come every summer. And some of those families were ones that we staff not only got to know, we got to love them. When we knew they were coming, we were very, very excited.

Because they were awesome. Because they exuded love. Because they were joyful.

And because we adored their kids.

Hélène was one such kid. A kid no longer, she is fighting the fight of her life, the fight for her life. Now 20 years old, she's been diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Her lungs are broken. They don't work anymore.

She needs new ones.

But new lungs are tricky to get, particularly when so many perfectly usable lungs - along with kidneys, livers, hearts, corneas... - are simply not being used because people aren't signing their organ donor card and are failing to tell their loved ones that they want to donate.

Hear me now, world: I WANT TO BE A DONOR. Don't waste anything: if it's usable, take it, because I won't need it anymore.

After we lost Laura, I know I, and likely many of my fellow dancers, felt a great sense of solace in knowing how many lives she touched, how many lives she saved, because her organs were not wasted.

But people need to think ahead. We need to think about and talk about organ donation before it becomes an issue. People need to talk about it now. And maybe, just maybe, people like Hélène won't have to wait for so long.

Please: join me in tweeting @JustinBieber on Thursday, January 19. We're tweeting to urge everyone to #BeAnOrganDonor. To raise hope for Hélène.

To learn more about Hélène, you can read her story on alungstory.ca.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

self | 52 :: week 1

urban reflection

My first self-portrait for this year's photo project after my little urban date with myself yesterday.

little reminders | popularity

little reminders

This is a new series I'm starting. From time to time I'll be posting words and images to keep me focussed and remind myself of important truths.

Monday, January 02, 2012


In yesterday's post, I had a short list of ways I'm going to allow myself to blossom this coming year. The last point, on growing in community, is a sticking point for me. My introverted, occasionally shy nature doesn't easily translate to community- and friendship-building. I am far too comfortable at home alone with my kids. 

It's destroying me.

I know it. And I'm admitting it here because I need to make myself accountable. 

I believe strongly that we are meant to live in community with one another. It isn't only that we are social animals: I believe that Jesus Christ calls us to live in community. But that's easier said than done in an age of nuclear families and single-family dwellings. The fact is that if I am going to exist in community - if my family is going to live in community with other families - we will need to be inventive. Or, perhaps not inventive, but retrospective. Community is hardly a new idea. We don't need to invent ways of living in community, only re-imagine the manner of its expression and the form of its experience.


I read this last week and I'll be re-reading it for the next few months. It is time to embrace community, to allow myself to grow with others, to express and experience greater love and encouragement. It is time to make - and be - friends, not just occasionally but with regularity and in commonplace and reliable ways.

My photo project for this year, self|52 is part photographic exercise, part impetus to become more in tune with my identity. The upshot is, I need to become more comfortable with others and more comfortable with myself. And I'm already finding myself occasionally struggling with my role and function in our family...

It sort of begs the question: who am I comfortable around? Is there anyone?

It's two sides of the same coin. How can I be comfortable in community, in authentic, genuine, sincere, open-hearted, loving relationship with others if I'm not sure of who I am, or at least, confident that I am expressing myself honestly?


I think about the term "selfless". We - particularly we in the church - use this word as though it is a good thing. It's good to be totally without self.

No way. I cannot buy that. Giving of self: yes. Willing and able to pour ourselves into serving others: absolutely. Accepting of the will of God to direct our lives, to inform ourselves: without question. But selfless? No. 

Who am I, if not a child of God? Am I really so presumptuous as to say that the person, the individual, unique and blessed, that She created in crafting this soul is so worthless that I can cast it aside and be 'selfless'? No.

Luke 10:27(b) reads: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Until earlier this year, I had always interpreted these words only as an exhortation to treat others well. But in February I realized that such a reading is unnecessarily limited.

If Jesus loves me, shouldn't I love me, too?

And if I'm lovable, shouldn't I share myself with others? Shouldn't I share my life and my thoughts and my love and my passion and my realness with other living, thinking, loving, passionate, real people? Shouldn't I welcome them and welcome the opportunity to be with them, to grow with them?


Isn't it deliciously ironic that I am best able to realize and express the need for community when I'm given time to myself? 


I need to exist in relationship with others. Too often I've heard truths about myself - about what and who I am, from the people who surround me, who love me, who see my own realness - which I had not seen before. My first step on this existential journey is to acknowledge that I cannot do this alone. I cannot merely reflect on myself: I need to see myself reflected in the people around me.

It's probably going to be uncomfortable. I'm not just a homebody, I'm actually prone to agoraphobia and anxiety issues. So it's going to be seriously uncomfortable at times. But it needs doing, and I know - without question - that I'll be happier for it.

Sunday, January 01, 2012


In December, I participated in the December Photo Project where we were challenged to post a daily photo from December 1st to 24th. As a new year begins, many people are participating in another year of Project 365, where a photo is posted daily for the entire year.

I like the challenge of these projects but I also know from my experience with the DPP that getting a good shot, downloading it, editing it, uploading and posting it is simply not going to happen every day. Once a week, though: that I can do. 

As I undergo a year of existential change and growth, reflecting on identity and the notion of self will be an ongoing practice. With that in mind, I'm embarking on my own photo project: self|52. Every week during 2012 I will post a self-portrait I've taken. My aim is to challenge myself both as a burgeoning photographer and philosopher. How will I use this medium to reflect my identity? What is the state of my concept of self and how can I depict that?

Want to join? I've created a Flickr group here and I also encourage you to comment and link to your self-portraits, wherever you may be posting them. I'd love to see your reflections on yourself.

self52 button


My word for 2011 is blossom.

For months now, I've known that I am in a season of change. In retrospect, it began over a year ago with dreading my hair, though I didn't realize it at the time. It is proving to be a season of spiritual change as I reflect and re-evaluate my faith and my vision of the church, of what the church is meant to be and how I fit into it and how that affects and effects my relationship with God. It's a season of emotional and existential change as I reflect on my identity, my role in our family, my role in society at large. I have been meditating on what and how I contribute, on the value of what I do, on balancing my desires for my children, my family, and myself. I have been struggling with how to balance what I do with what I think, my full-time mothering with my feminism.


It's complicated. It's challenging. At times it's a little heartbreaking, when my ideals appear to exist in conflict with one another and I need to reconcile them. And finding space in which to delve into these matters, giving myself the mental space to deal with it all is incredibly difficult. Small-space living as a family of four is snug and cozy, but it does come with a few drawbacks, and the premium placed on solitude is one of them.


I've staked out some space at a Starbucks a few blocks from our apartment - my beloved Bridgehead is closed today, and I need space, tea, and free wi-fi. Jon is home with the girls. They are fine without me there (I am very grateful, for a whole host of reasons, that at very-nearly 8 months old, I am no longer Bubby's sole food-source). I have time and the ability to think.


Why 'blossom'? I considered other words. I considered 'bloom', 'bud', 'sprout'... But I settled on blossom.

blos·som   [blos-uhhttp://sp.dictionary.com/dictstatic/dictionary/graphics/luna/thinsp.pngm]noun Botany .
1.the flower of a plant, especially of one producing an edible fruit.
1.the flower of a plant, especially of one producing an edible fruit.
2.the state of flowering: The apple tree is in blossomverb (used without object)3.Botany . to produce or yield blossoms.
4.to flourish; develop (often followed by into  or out ): a writerof commercial jingles who blossomed out into an importantcomposer.
5.(of a parachute) to open.
and from the World English Dictionary:
(of plants) to come into flower
to develop or come to a promising stage: youth had blossomed
into maturity
I have been resisting the change I feel happening. I have been holding onto fear and turning away from the bravery and vulnerability I need to face in order to allow that change to happen. But I can't resist any longer. For that reason, I briefly considered claiming the word 'brave' but decided against it. I know that I need to be brave, but simply saying that I'm going to be brave without pointing to why I will be brave, without looking toward what will come of that bravery will not help me. I need to accept the challenge and move forward into change. Bravery is merely one of the tools I need to take me there. The mark on which my eye is laid is to blossom.

In blossoming, what will be comes out of what is. What is - the beginning, the genesis, the bud - is good, and it is beautiful and sweet and dear, but what will be - the blossom - is its destiny. It is what is meant to be. It is what must be. It is, literally, necessary for fruition.

I have been tucked inside for too long. I have been curled unto myself, holding within the potential for beauty, for the bearing of fruit. I've resisted the blooming, afraid. Afraid of failure. Afraid of rejection. Afraid of not succeeding the way I presume that I should. Afraid of disappointing myself, my family. Afraid of over-extending myself. Afraid of being challenged. Afraid of changing into someone I don't recognize, not because who I might become would be so terrible but because I think that I am comfortable.

But I'm not. I'm not comfortable. I am frustrated. I'm not frustrated in my life - my family, my husband, my children, our life together, is life-giving and sustaining - but frustrated in my production. I have been soaking up goodness, wisdom, thought, reflection, ideas, beauty for ages: the time has come to contribute. It's time to  own my voice. 


Some of the ways I am going to blossom are:

*voicing my needs 
*allowing and forcing myself to embrace discomfort
*accepting that things which have been may be coming to an end in order make space for what will be
*acknowledging and embracing that my faith and my past expressions of it are changing and I have to allow that change to happen
*using my innate and developing creativity to contribute to the global conversation as well as contribute to the family purse
*growing in community

I hope you'll come with me on this journey to blossoming. 

And then the day came, 
when the risk
to remain tight 
in a bud 
was more painful 
than the risk 
it took 
to Blossom.
Risk - Anaïs Nin


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