March 29, 2012

"Chin Up"

I've always been the kid that could never reach the monkey bars, was too afraid to be that high off the ground, and had no upper body strength. I've always heard the words, "you're too little" whether it be as a child to go on rides at amusement parks, standing on the top riser during choir, or _______ (fill in the blank). This week that all changed. Never once in my whole life have I ever imagined that I could do a chin up, but the other night I had the overwhelming urge to TRY! I tried using the fridge, and my roommate's arm, but after a few failed attempts I convinced myself that the next day I would try at the gym. It's a scary thing trying something new, especially something you've never imagined you can do, and especially doing that thing in front of a bunch of strangers. 

With only 8lbs of resistance, I, a 4'11" female with very little upper body strength did 20 chin ups. I was filled with a rush of emotion. My success instilled confidence, pride, and overall happiness.

I went back after supper and did 25 more. That makes 45 chin ups in one day! My FIRST day, at that!

So why am I so excited over a few chin ups? It's not because I completed an item on my bucket list, nor is because I found a new way to keep fit, no. It is because a whole new world of possibilities opened up for me...doors were knocking and windows of opportunity FLEW open! If on the first time I can do 45 of something I never in my wildest dreams ever thought I could do...


At first I thought that my life list was a bunch of silly goals that I may never accomplish, but in the past few weeks that I have been serious about completing them I have been changed. I am even more of an optimist, I am more courageous, and with each tiny step I am being set free. Set free of the "I can't"s the "I'm too little"s and the "I will never be able to do that"s. 

So may we be freed from the negative, 
set free by the positive,
and lit on fire by our goals. 

If a 100lb weakling can do 45 chin ups,
you sure as heck can accomplish that goal that's been sitting on the back burner, covered in "I can't".

In my grade 10 English classroom there was a poster that read,
"Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right." -Henry Ford
I can now say that I wholeheartedly agree.

May the power of positive thinking be upon us this week. 
May we KNOW that we CAN, and 
may you keep your chin up!

You can do all things through He who gives you strength
Philippians 4:13

March 28, 2012

"Get a 6"

Alright folks, I'm currently in a couple classes that are challenging me, academically speaking. One of these classes in particular is a challenge, because I'm never sure what the professor is asking of me. We have daily assignments that are basically summaries and responses to the readings and these assignments get a mark out of 6. Now to be clear a 6 is not worth 100%, the way she described it is that as long as your responses get better each time you will receive a good mark. At first I was getting 4s and then I was consistently getting 5s. It seemed like no matter what I wrote about, how much I wrote, or how many sources I used I was stuck with a 5. I'm am in no way writing about a frustration, but more of an inspiration. The more 5s I got, the more I wanted a 6. I stopped trying to please the professor, I stopped writing what I thought she would like, and I stopped writing what I thought she was looking for. 

One day last week began with the pleasant surprise of a 6. On my last assignment I wrote about what really interested me. I took the assignment to heart and even though I only wrote a small amount, I wrote what I wanted to write, and that little bit of passion and effort was more than the lengthy assignments I had been passing in for the past 6 months. Through striving to get a 6, I discovered the importance of passion. This same professor delivered a lecture last week on the importance of passion in writing. She used the example of looking for a thesis topic. She advised us not to just choose one because people are pressuring you. She said to wait. Wait until one jumps off the page, and if one never jumps off the page, then you might be in the wrong field of work. What a wise woman! This got me thinking to the rest of the papers and assignments that I have done for the past three years. The ones that received the best marks really were the ones I invested the most into. The ones that actually interested me so much that I looked at the assignment as a trail maker for my learning. I was learning because I wanted to, and the assignments that were given to me were simply road markers to point me in the right direction, to structure my research and thoughts, and to give me credit for my hard work. 

Isn't that what university is all about? Discovering your passion? Sure you are paying thousands of dollars for so called "job training" in hopes that you will be prepared for the workforce (and the real world), but it is SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT. The relationships that I have made with peers and professors have not only helped me to find my passion, but they have inspired me and have helped to light my so called passion on fire. It may have taken me three years to realize this, but this makes me so much more excited and prepared for my fourth year! How cool is that?

Anyway, I got my 6, but with that 6 I received a whole heck of a lot. I received the importance of caring about my own education and the drive to map out my passion. Even though my professor does not give 7s, I'm going to strive for 8s, and it's okay if I never get there, and it's okay if I do, because there are not many numbers lower than 8, but there are a whole lot more that are higher! 


Did you get a 6 in your life recently?

March 26, 2012

Stroll, Strut, & Stumble.

Last semester I was walking from the campus bookstore up to the cafeteria. I was by my self and I was enjoying the walk uphill. To give some perspective, just know that a part of the hill is so steep that they had to add stairs just to make it climbable. I passed the section of stairs and was almost to the top when a good friend of mine waved me down and stopped to chat. She informed me that she recognized me a few steps after I left the store. It was not by the clothing I was wearing, nor was it because my friend has excellent vision, no, as she put it, it was due to the "pep" in my "step". I don't go out of my way to walk a certain way, so naturally I began to think of possible causes to my animated walking habit. 

It is not due to certain shoes, it's a long time habit, not something new. 

I left that thought on the back burner and returned to listening to the song in my head. On my walk with Amanda this Saturday this thought found it's way back to my mind. Between the birds singing, my friend's many things to tell me, and the song in my head, I was so filled with wonderful sounds that I felt like a helium balloon that was having a hard time saying put on earth. The joy of Spring, downtown, and friendship is a loud combination! Give it a listen!

I never realized I had a special gift, and maybe you have yet to discover that you have it too, but after talking to a man in my church after a youth event one night, it all became clear. Jeff looked at me and said, "Annie, do you realize that not everyone ALWAYS has a song in their head? Someone of my own family even don't have this gift." Do you have it? Is there a series of songs playing in your brain 24/7? It doesn't even matter if I'm awake, because sometimes I dream in song. Some days it is so loud that I can't even put headphones in. My friend Melinda suggested to Jeff and I (have a listen! he is fantastic) that maybe it is because we are both quite musical people, but maybe it is more than that. Humbly I say that Jeff is, and I am a little bit, "in tune" with the greater picture. That's not to say that a brain radio is the only way to be in tune, but I think our joy might have something to do with it. :)

               What's this got to do with walking?
                                       Well let's take it one step further.

I stumble when I get caught up in song,
I strut when I get caught up in song,
but whatever the case I stroll right along,
because of my heart's radio songs.

In a humble way,
I say
that the pep in my step just may-
be due to the joy in my heart and the songs in my mind.
Maybe, just maybe, my joy overflows from my heart to my feet
and the song in my mind keeps my feet with the beat.

"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."
May your heart song sing, and may YOU overflow with hope. 


March 24, 2012

Beginning of a New Thought

Recently the following phrase got me thinking:

 "I go to the gym everyday, my life is better with it, now I can't imagine not going."

There is a place for everything in my room, and most of these places are labelled, but once in a while my life will get a little busy and my room starts to reflect that. One thing gets moved out of place, then another and then the excuses start rolling. A small thing out of place no longer seems like a big deal, because the big picture really is a big mess. This week my room began to get messy.

My fitness is the same way. I skip the gym one day and it doesn't seem like a big deal, but then more and more days seem okay to miss. This week I began to skip the gym.

Homework follows the same pattern. I have procrastinated my 20 music journals that were to be done throughout the semester and here it is the end of the semester and I have 3 completed. This week I began to procrastinate toooo much homework. 

Eventually all of this builds up until I can't take it any longer. Instead of doing a quick clean of my room each day, or just cleaning as I go, it piles into a mess. Instead of going to the gym for a short workout everyday, I find myself needing to spend hours there just to reach my weekly goal. Instead of doing one journal a week I now have 17 to complete this week. The thing is I SEE it happening. I KNOW when I put something out of place that the whole room will be destroyed. I know exactly that my muscle will not continue to build if I keep skipping the gym, and as for homework, boy do I really know that homework sure can pile up! 

Why am I reflecting on all of this? Well truth be told, I like to think that our spiritual lives work in the same way. We repent for what we have done and we are forgiven, but then we fall into a tiny temptation, and then another and then a bigger one and then our life is one big mess again. We know that even a tiny sin is sin. In James 2:10 we read that someone who commits one sin, is guilty of them all. If we keep our lives tidy, then the small sins will be noticeable and we can work on them, but if we keep adding them to the pile, the pile is gonna get pretty in 40 times bigger than that pile of homework, and 40 times more destructive. (And don't get me started on the number 40...)

This began with one thing out of place on my desk. Now I can't see the desk. 

Just like a physically fit life style, we need to keep spiritually fit. We go into battle each day and if we slack off even one day a week, we are strongly affected by that and the scary part is, like muscle we don't realize we are losing it, until we have something to carry. How are we going to begin to help others carry their burdens if we are spiritually weak?

As my American Literature prof often says, "I'm not here to preach at you, so don't even get that idea, in fact let me sit with you and talk with you". If anything, this is a humble reminder that I received this week that I thought you might want to get in on.

So thank you to the friend I ran into at the gym, you always seem to make me think on a deeper level. Thank you for helping me to realize that I fight a spiritual battle each day, that my life is truly better living spiritually, and that I can't imagine my life without it.

This week, let's begin to de-clutter our lives no matter what that means to you!
To start, we must begin, so lets begin humbly!

What part of your life are you going to work out at the spiritual gym this week?

March 20, 2012

Spring Beginning

Happy First Day of Spring!

Today was filled with many beginnings for me. My day began by getting up at 8 and getting ready for the day and then having a nap until 9. (Great way to start the day!) My day also began with 22 degree weather, new sunglasses, and wearing my homemade dress.

My day began with a beautiful walk to campus 3 hours before my class. My day began with writing and coloring my Easter cards while outside in the sunshine. My day began with saying hello to many friends, and by sitting on the best bench in the upper court yard. My day began with with the song, "This is my Father's World" stuck in my head. My day began by reading "The Sound and the Fury," and by printing off a completed essay!

but most importantly my day began with love, via the beginning of Spring. Spring is more than nice weather, and flowers, and sunshine, and bubbles. Spring is a reminder of renewal, second chances, and love. As the Easter season approaches, and lent comes to a close it is difficult not to be reminded of love. No matter who you are, what you have done, just know one thing: YOU ARE LOVED, my friend, you are loved. If you need proof of this, then walk outside and take a look around. You have food in your tummy, air in your lungs, and a sun that never fails to shine. 

So in case the singing birds, shining sun, and blooming flowers aren't enough, this is me reminding you to have a happy Spring!

March 18, 2012

"Hair-ay for Hair"

Today began with the realization of how blessed I am to have hair. I like my hair when it is curly and crazy, pin straight and prim, dry and fuzzy, and wet and unmanageable. I like how it keeps my head protected from the elements, keeps me warm, and lightly brushes my shoulders. I like my hair when it is up, I like it when it is down, and I like sewing hair bands to wear in my hair. I like buying little dishes of brown bobby pins. I like my bangs, and most of all I like it when my mother puts my hair in french braids. French braids is an art that I cannot do myself, but is something my mother is very good at. (In case you were wondering, this skill is not genetic).  But enough appreciation for my hair.

I have always felt called to donate my hair. My dream is to raise money and shave my head for a cause, but I'm not going to do this until a cause is placed on my hear. I was convinced I was ready in grade eleven, but I had plans to go to prom with someone that year and they made it clear that having a date who was bald was not exactly how he wanted to remember his prom. Out of respect for him, I waited. First year of university came and I wanted to donate at least some of my hair, but it was never long enough. 

There have been many days where I think about dying my hair and really making it my own, but there are many cons that come with dying hair: cost; upkeep; special shampoo; a long and smelly visit to the hairdresser who never fails to ask if I've been to any good parties lately; and most importantly, the inability to donate hair. So everyday I set aside my selfish and shallow desire to make my hair the world's view of beautiful so that in the future I may help one person to see him or herself as beautiful. To be clear, I don;t judge people for dying their hair or not donating it, simply for myself I feel compelled to donate it, so that is what I strive to do. There have been four women who have helped me to see this goal for myself. 

The first was a coworker at a summer camp I once worked at. She showed up for the summer with her hair chopped off and when campers would ask her about her hair she would tell them how she donated it and raised money for a cancer foundation. I looked up to her. 

The second was a leader of mine from a high school group, although she had very thin hair she grew it out very long and donated it. 

The third was a girl from my once-upon-a-time high school, even though I wasn't a student there at the time, a girl shaved her head to help support breast cancer, and it was a huge nudge in my heart. If this girl can shave her head for a greater good, and go to school (high school of all places) everyday and not care what people think, then I need to step it up. 

The fourth, and by far the most sentimental was a woman from my church. She struggled with cancer, and was the mother of a very good friend of mine. Before she passed, the church came together to raise funds for her and to support her. At an event that was held in her honour, she got up on stage and removed her bright pink hat. (I tear up every time I think of this moment, including now). When she took off that hat I saw her in her most beautiful state of life. She was living, she was alive. She was not merely existing, she owned her looks like I've never seen anyone do before. She was so incredibly beautiful, and it took something the world considers beautiful (hair) to be gone for me to see her indescribable beauty. She shone. 

So what's holding back this pony tail? I often make excuses to my self, "after I get graduation photos done" or "after I'm married", but the truth is, I may never experience those things, so the time is now. I will continue to grow my hair long and natural until I am able to filter out the purpose behind this nudge. I have some ideas already as to the cause and route this goal will go towards, so I'm sure I'll be able to filter them when my hair is ready. 

My day began by adding "Begin Donating Hair" to my life list. 
How Did Your Day Begin? 

March 17, 2012

Today's Beginnings

Today began with happiness,
“Oh Happiness” to be exact, brought to me by the David Crowder Band via my alarm clock. It’s always a good idea to wake up happy, especially if it is before 8:00am, which today was. Today also began with a few sets of Sun Rises and Sun Sets, my happy morning exercise routine that involves putting my hands together and stretching towards the sky and lowering my clasped hands. 

Most importantly, today began with inspiration! I had the opportunity to attend a few of the presentations being held at the Annual Atlantic Undergraduate English Conference. The presentation that interested me the most was the one on Ami Mckay’s first book, “The Birth House”. I’ve read this book more than a few times, and so have most members of my family, and many of my friends. I am so inspired by this author, because she is a reminder that authors are real people. As a once-upon-a-time neighbour of mine, it is an incredible feeling to walk through bookstores and see her work and run my fingers over the (not in best condition) copy of the book I own. The most amazing thing so far was to attend a conference where undergrads are presenting papers on authors that very commonly studied (Pound, Tolken, etc), and to hear this young female present new ideas on a book I have invested a large part of my life into. Out of all books she could have chosen to read, let alone present, she chose the one that speaks of real places where I’ve been, and the author to whom I've known.

google images
Today began with reality. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in my own little world that the big picture becomes dim. Although “The Birth House” is my book, on my book shelf, by an author that lived by my house, it is more than that, much more in fact. It is a book that thousands of people consider their own; that is the power of literature. Today began with literature coming alive.  Authors are living people like you, and like me. We all have the power of a pen at our fingertips. So with this I have added a new beginning to my life list: “Begin Writing a Book”. 

How Did Your Day Begin?

March 16, 2012

“Begin Blogging”

My name is Annie. I have tiny shoes, and big dreams. Dreams to go, dreams to see, dreams to make, and dreams to be. I believe in making the most out of each day, and I believe in happy. Every morning I wake up not to the thought that the new day has a possibility of a miracle, but the assurance that I will experience many-a-wondrous things that day. As I live each day striving to live life to its fullest I can’t help but keep a list. A list of life. A list of things that are on my heart that I feel called to do. So here’s to the things I wish to begin, as I go.

Humble Beginnings.

Humble, because I don’t just choose my items at random. 
Humble, because I’m not posting to boast about accomplishments, abilities, or opportunities.
Humble because of encouragement,  because if I can do these things, you most certainly can too.
Humble, because I hope for you to start a list too.
Humble, because I want to help. :)

Beginnings, because each item on my life list is just what it is, a beginning.
Beginnings, because I hope to not only cross items off my list, but keep them going.
Beginnings, because once I complete an item, it is a beginning of a life that has one more beginning.

All of this being said, my first beginning to be recorded is this, “Begin Blogging”. So a huge THANK YOU goes out to my once upon a time neighbour, and my forever wonderful friend, Amanda. Copper-Boom!

Here's to humble beginnings.