Monday, November 26, 2007

Don't Mind Me..I'm Just Having a Mini-Meltdown

Hubbs and I are never apart. We hung out nearly every day when we were dating. When we got married over 2 years ago, we sort of holed up and again, shared every night together, with the exception of an occasional conference for me or him, in which case we were still never more than 2 nights apart from one another. There never arose any situation that could not be rectified by one of us joining the other, to ensure that we were only 2 days or nights away from one other.

That is, until now. My dear Hubbs is living the high life in Vancouver at this very moment, there to speak and attend a big nerd convention/conference that runs nearly a week in length. I will be joining him, but not until Thursday; I am working and cannot spare the time to go any earlier (parent-teacher interviews), and he wouldn't be available to hang out with me prior to that day anyway. This means that, for the first time in our relationship (not including the long-distance courtship at the beginning), we will be apart for more than 2 nights - 4 nights, to be exact.

And I, being the Stage-5 clinger that I am, am not feeling very cool with it. It is an irrational uncoolness, however, not based in reality or rational thought whatsoever. Hubbs has been great; he has MSN'ed with me, been on the phone with me, and has even been willing to send me text messages to keep me in the loop on how he's doing. I honestly have no reason to complain, given that many other husbands I know of don't even bother to call their wives when they are away on business trips.

However, the awesomeness of my man has in no way detracted from this terrible lonesome feeling that is eating away at my insides. Though I have never been abandoned, I feel as though I have abandonment issues. I have no idea why. I'm sure it's rooted in some deep-seated fear or traumatic experience from my youth, that my subconscious has suppressed up until now. Whatever it is, it has rendered me nearly incapable of functioning normally when I talk to, or about, Hubbs. I fall to pieces and big alligator tears start rolling down my cheeks. Then, the ugly sobs come.

See, I told you it was irrational. My poor man has to deal with the stress of his presentation and the stress of, well, ME. Isn't he a lucky guy? ;)

I am hoping that, after I get back into "work mode" today, my strange mini-meltdown will begin to pass. It's either that, or else I will be a basketcase by Thursday, and deemed unfit to travel, which would ultimately lead me down a cycle of loneliness that would result in my mental and emotional demise by Sunday.

Happy Monday!

Friday, November 23, 2007

greed, need, fear
fuels the heart to seek
in forms grotesque
not idols tangible to eye and hand
but godless deities nonetheless
opportunities for wealth
offered by
others equally greedy, needy, fearful
blinded by empty promises of a better tomorrow

the blind lead the blind
skeptics are alienated
arguments left unheard
not wanting to burst this delicate bubble of hope
with critical thought

upline! downline!
build build build
make friends opportunities
new teammates, partners
joined in the pursuit
of barren idols
to begin establishing
a personal kingdom
of profit

"You shall have no other gods before me"
what about after You?
number two
challenging the position of Number One
in time, and heart, and mind

so pursues the heart
over time, overtime
desperate to find
the promise not realized
the residual is not incoming
to quell the greed, and need, and fear
only residual effects
relationships strained
hurt feelings
and the price is not worth the profit

what holes in the heart
demand this blind, ignorant faith
replacing the Promise with promises
of no value?

Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness
And all these things will be given to you as well
the desires of the heart
the needs of the body

to what value is it
to seek anything else?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Achy Breaky Heart

I feel terrible today, and not for the usual reasons of illness or fatigue, though I am still sick with congestion and completely burnt out from report cards.

The reason why I feel terrible was initially rather inexplicable, actually; it was this jumble of mixed feelings that sort of leapt into my heart when I stopped at a red light while I was driving home this afternoon. As I was stopped, I happened to look to the left side of the intersection, where a person in a wheelchair was perched near the garbage can close to the crosswalk. I think that the individula was waiting to cross. I couldn't help but stare at this person
, because her (I presume it was a woman though I couldn't really tell through the layers of clothing) upper body was twisted up in a completely contorted manner, and it was difficult to figure out what she was doing. After a few moments of impolite staring, I directed my attention to the right side of the street, where several people, who appeared to be returning to the office after a business lunch, stood waiting to cross.

Again, my eyes were drawn back to the lone individual on the left. By now, she had de-contorted her torso and was sitting upright in her chair. I can only imagine that the contortionist movement was an attempt to scratch a hard-to-reach area of her back that was made even less accessible by the back of the wheelchair. Anyway, I don't know that this person noticed as I observed her slowly wheeling her ride across the street, several quiet moments before the light actually turned green. I awkwardly stared as long as I could, but then my light did turn green and my focus redirected towards the road. Through my peripheral I could see that the business people had taken no notice of the one in the wheelchair, it seems they were lost in their own conversation on the opposite side of the road, still waiting to cross.

It was at that moment that this absolutely awful feeling crept into my heart and gripped at it violently. Was it pity? Compassion? Even on a good day I'm pretty self-centered, so I found myself ruling out those possibilities. As other psychoanalytical thoughts raced through my brain to make sense of my sudden emotional response, it dawned on me.

I felt terrible because, for a split second, metaphysical reality became physical reality, and in that brief moment I was seeing this person, this world, through Jesus' eyes, and experiencing Jesus' sadness. The awful ache in my heart was His ache - maybe not for that woman in the wheelchair, or for those who ignored her, but for the general hurting world that seems to be so wrapped up in itself that it no longer sees anyone else in it. I was getting a temporary glance at fallen humanity, and my heart was revealing the groaning of a world lost that has become lost and without hope.

This terrible feeling of grief mingled with sadness and sorrow only lasted briefly, and then it released its hold and began to fade away. My thoughts, however, did not disappear quite so quickly, and even now the image of that contorted body in the wheelchair is vivid in my mind's eye.

As we approach a cooler season, and the build-up towards the holiday season, I cannot help but think about those who will find themselves alone again this Dec. 25th, without family or friends or hope to sustain their lives. Once more the starkness of the contrast between the ones who have much and the ones who have nothing will become increasingly apparent; again we who are blessed with abundance will turn away awkwardly, not wishing to stare or not willing to acknowledge those less fortunate than we are on the other side of the road. Again we will find ourselves wrapped up in our own conversations about gifts and turkey dinners and reuniting with family and friends, oblivious to the ones around us who have nothing to be joyful for and nobody to be joyful with. Or will we?

I would like this year to be different for me. I hope you do, too.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Passion or Poison?

Hubbs and I got into a nice deep conversation last night about having passion for one's work; we were discussing a particularly vitriolic rant that some developer (who isn't important enough for me to link to, sorry) has posted on his blog. He apparently holds passionately strong opinions and convictions about his work, his industry, and 'inspiring" good quality developers, according to Hubbs. This, it is reasoned, is why he felt the need to post a scathing write-up about others in his industry who he feels to work for glory without substance.

I am not sure that his "passion" is what I perceive from reading his post, however. Don't get me wrong - the article is well-written, uses complex sentences, and contains enough multi-syllabic words to convince me that he is an educated person; I'm sure this was his intent, and in that he succeeds.

That said, the post is also incredibly damaging on many levels. There is an air of superior condescension to the tone of the writing; this person obviously feels that those whom he writes about (either generally or specifically, we cannot be sure) are inferior to him; his post thereby insults and alienates many in his field whom he purports to want to inspire or challenge into change. There is also a distinct anger that resonates through the text, that many would be able to detect "between-the-lines" without this person overtly saying, "I am very very angry! Grrrrrr!" Generally speaking, any argument made reactively in anger loses some measure of credibility and logic and reason, in my humble opinion. Finally, the comments field, which contains feedback from both anonymous and named contributors offering some valid counter-arguments, is rife with the blogger's childish retorts that amount to little more than "I know you are, but what am I?" comebacks and "your mama"-style personal attacks aimed predominantly at the anonymous posters but sometimes addressing the identified ones as well. To me, the inability to address the counter-points in a calm and rational fashion, coupled with the use of mud-slinging techniques that only distract from the issue at hand, further reduces the inspirational value of the post.

Passionate, eh? I say, poisonous. How does such an article inspire people to passionate professional development? I would argue that it cannot, because people do not respond well to hateful angry messages, even if at the heart of the message is the desire to light a fire under these folks' metaphoric bottoms. Add insult to injury by throwing in a few tactless personal comments, and the very populace one wishes to inspire will likely turn and walk away in disgust.

Rather, I propose that if one wants to make their passion contagious, that they approach things from a proactive stance; encourage those who are doing things well, and spotlight those who live the example of what is being preached. Be a builder of community, of good form and best practice, and be the first one to praise and to offer, "How can I help you do that even better?" Bring others up to standards of excellence instead of merely pointing out how far off the mark they are; positive change happens most effectively when servant leaders are willing to come alongside those who need some extra support, and show them how to be great. Real passion is borne out of action by those wishing to inspire; it is not created by reaction to those whom one feels to be inadequate.

Hubbs has shared with me of some of his personal heroes, including one very notable and inspirational developer, JP Boodhoo; now this is a man who models with integrity what it means to work passionately and to inspire others to greatness. It is a model that I know Hubbs tries to emulate. Take a look at JP's blog; he isn't angry and
he doesn't put others down, but he does share ways to help people do things even better.

The great discussion Hubbs and I had is really not limited to the field of development. It's life, folks. In each of our industries, be it education or nursing or managing a store or delivering pizzas or enforcing the law, we make a choice each day and each moment to either inspire passion in those around us, or spew poison to weaken resolve and destroy morale.

What will you choose to do? Inspire, or insult? What will you choose to be? Passion, or poison.

You decide.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Taken for Granted

I am rising to the challenge issued by the Ontario Emperor to identify things that I take for granted. In listing just a meagre selection of the many overlooked blessings in my life, it is evident that for the most part, I am an ingrate.

* clean, running water in hot and cold temperatures
whenever I need it
* a collection of technology (digital camera, lap top, cell phone with camera, mp3 player, digital voice recorder, DVD/VCR/TV) that I can use to communicate (or be communicated with)
* the freedom to read my Bible and pray in my classroom with my students
* functional limbs and digits
* electricity, also available to me at all times
* waking up to, and going to bed with, Hubbs (we used to be separated by an ocean)
* having both parents and both parents-in-law still alive and well, and happily married to their spouses

* my hair
* fresh air and open spaces and the absence of noise
* my memory and the ability to retain and recall information and experiences from many years ago
* the wealth to eat more than one meal a day (in fact, I sometimes eat 6 meals per day)
* peace in my nation

Those are just a few that came to mind. As Remembrance Day / Veteran's Day rolls around, let us all not only remember the blessings in our lives, but may we also remember to thank God for the things that we can take for granted, that many paid a heavy price for.

Friday, November 09, 2007

New Car Ideas?

I realize that Hubbs and I have been tossing around the idea of buying a new car for well over a year now. We never really felt justified spending the money up to this point. However, now that our car is nearing the point where we no longer feel safe driving it on the open highway, we're seriously considering buying a new vehicle come the spring.

Why wait, right? Simple - it's about cost. The new 2008's have just come out, so interest rates on these are still at a premium. We're hoping that in the spring, the rates will begin to fall as the cars become less-new.

So now the question is, what car should we buy? I was forever coveting the Honda Civic, but now that I've laid eyes on the Accord's new and improved look, I am a bit torn. The preliminary reviews on the Accord are promising, too, and so my new object of vehicular lust is the 2008 Honda Accord EXL-V6, which has a 3.5L, V6 engine and full-leather interior with heated front seats.

What do you think? This new Accord is being compared with the Camry, the Altima, and some models of Acuras, even. It's a bit pricier than the Civic, but it also boasts a roomier interior (in case we need to fit it with car seats one day) and a more powerful ride. It's definitely on the luxurious end of the spectrum, costing nearly as much as a lower-end BMW 300-series sedan.

But I think I'm in love.

Big Baby


I'm usually pretty tough; I don't cringe when I give blood, I go to work when I don't feel well, and I walk in spite of kiwi-sized blisters on the bottoms of my feet.

However, today I found myself whining like a big baby.

Two evenings ago I noted a tell-tale scratchiness in my throat. In spite of my near-OD'ing on vitamin C for the past 48 hours, I was unable to avoid that dreaded annual fall cold. I woke up this morning to a hoarse voice, an achy body, and a mild upper-respiratory congestion.

Rather than be blessed with a day off to recover, however, I had to go to work (pro bono, no less!) because my students were performing in the Remembrance Day assembly at school. As the coordinating teacher of their dramatic efforts, my attendance was non-negotiable. On top of that, I had (stupidly) promised a colleague that I would sub for him (for money) in the afternoon, while he was away with our school sports team at a tournament.

Needless to say, my mood was less than spectacular when I arrived at school in the morning. Some whining and general noisiness from a few of my performing students didn't help. My spilling an entire mug of coffee on my shirt right before the assembly began didn't help. Having to sit through 40 minutes of sombre remembrance whilst reeking of coffee and contending with wet fabric on my skin didn't help.

By the end of the day, I was done. My throat hurt, my body hurt, my head hurt, and all I wanted was to eat a bowl of chicken congee and some of my dad's homemade Chinese comfort food. Rice would have been nice. Some herbal Chinese soup would have been nice too. Unfortunately, none of these were available to me, because the one place we know to have clean and "down home" Chinese cooking is closed for the month due to staff holidays. The rest of the places either didn't sell things like congee, or they didn't do deliveries. (Hubbs is sick, too, so it would be entirely unfair of me to send him on a pick-up mission).

I felt so sorry for myself, so lonesome for my parents' cooking, and so miserable that I whined. Loudly. Like a big ol' baby. It was not a pretty sight. Hardly my proudest moment.

Thankfully, I have a very patient and loving husband. Though he, too, was sick today, he was kind enough to make me a can of Campbell's chicken noodle, and tuck me into bed so that I could get some rest.

I still feel pretty awful physically, and the congestion hasn't subsided yet. However, I do feel a tad better, having caught a few z's and filled up my tummy.

I still crave my folks' food though. And I am desperately hoping that I will feel much better tomorrow, or else I have a feeling that the whining will only get louder and more pathetic.

(PS - Fortunately I didn't have to teach all afternoon in a wet shirt. The school was able to sell me a t-shirt from their overstock of school shirts, and so I managed to change out of my coffee-stained, wet top into a clean, dry shirt shortly after the assembly concluded.)