Day 13: Practice

“The most important pieces of equipment you need for doing yoga are your body and your mind.” ~ Rodney Yee

Not feeling my best, but I still got myself out of bed by 5:30 this morning to make it for morning yoga. Feeling sick because I didn’t get enough sleep, or perhaps I am finally mindful of how awful my body feels when I don’t have enough sleep. I used to numb myself from the sickening feeling of fatigue in order to power through in my busy day. I vow not to do this anymore.

Also feeling some sadness that a dear friend is moving to Australia. Mostly I feel reminiscent of a time when we dreamed with our childhood hearts and didn’t actually have to cope with the reality of these dreams come true. It’s interesting that it is never as ideal as imagined. Yesterday I listened to a podcast about the first pictures taken of snowflakes. There was a  dispute between that photographer who edited the negatives of the photos in order to represent every ‘ideal, unique snowflake’ versus another scientist who felt betrayed when he finally took a photo of a snowflake himself and found a rather imperfect, ugly mess of angles, the snowflake in its actual, unique form. Applies to our perception of  our lives and how we commit to the people and goals we keep.

Commitments

My worst panic comes when I over-commit myself. Sometimes I realize too late that I have made too many promises. This  mistake can fall on fateful or delicate days when a small misunderstanding can tip the balance of friendship to betrayal. I have found that I am more conscientious to exercise  my virtue of humility in all aspects of my life. It is an added blessing that I have insightful people in my life who have given me sound advice. I hope that I can continue in those friendships I hold close to my heart. It will teach me to be a better colleague and teacher in my professional life. 

Dignity Humility Courage

Dignity is the core of our existence that should be strengthened in order to hold us together and upright when we face challenges in life. The most difficult moments of confrontation and conflict are the very ones where our ego is the focus and pushes our dignity aside, causing self pity and resentment. The amount of humility we exercise in our daily interactions with people determines our ability to consciously disengage ourselves from the negative feelings in the moment and refocus ourselves. Humility and Dignity teach us to accept and love ourselves and be okay with our imperfections.

The mistakes we make, unwittingly and consciously, teach us more about our vulnerability and weaknesses. The instinct we have is to run from it, to cover it up with guilt and pride. What we need is forgiveness and courage to accept ourselves before beginning to work on becoming better selves. Before anyone else can forgive us, or before we can move forward, we need to learn from the wisdom of solitude and reflection. 

I believe that we suffer hurt in order to grow stronger , as we must ask difficult soul searching questions to learn more about ourselves. We share our experiences with with our loved ones to draw strength from each other. (True friendship is unconditional love,withholding judgment through patience and empathy; it is fueled by truth and honesty.)

This all takes Courage, the kind of inner strength that is built up with patience.

Purpose and Meaning

After four hours of a terribly stressful dream about losing my cool as a classroom teacher, I woke up to three alarms that S and I had set the previous night. We caught the 6a.m. bus that took us to the ferry terminal, and arrived in Gibsons, B.C. for our morning presentation at Cedar Grove Elementary School.

When we were in Uganda planning the kindergarten project, we had no resources to jump- start the vision. Our community in Busolwe wanted to establish a school that was attached to the library, and our role in the project was to design a guiding curriculum and present a budget to the Board of Directors of the library association so that they would endorse the plan. S. Sammartino contacted her mother who is a kindergarten teacher on the sunshine coast, and students raised enough money to purchase wood and hire a local carpenter who made the desks and chairs. After our departure, the Busolwe library community interviewed and hired teachers from the capital city, and with a surge in enrolment the school population was close to 200 students in its first year!

Our first fundraiser presentation last year raised over $500 Cdn and that went towards supplying and creating 5 additional classroom spaces for students in K-7. Today’s presentation was a virtual tour through our classroom, and the students were amazed by the great impact that their small coin contributions had made.

Following our presentation, teachers had booked us to come into their classrooms to debrief with the students. Last year we had spoken to all the intermediate students, so this year we visited all the primary classrooms. Students asked us what kind of food we ate, what languages are spoken in Uganda, how far the community was, and why did we name it Mango Grove school. It was amazing to share with the students their wonders and personal connections to this community of students halfway across the world.
It was extremely touching to speak to teachers and other workers in the school about why we still do this on the side of our busy lives. On our ferry ride home, I remarked that it felt like we were leading two lives. For me, this was one busy student teacher life; for Stephanie one busy counselor life; for Hannali one busy life of an aspiring diplomat. It was powerful to watch the video of our simple presentation. Although Busolwe still has many areas in which they are developing, the students who now attend Busolwe Mango Grove have become part of our lives. In a way, we have become international development workers without having anticipated so. Though we have our individual aspirations driven by our passions for education/counseling/international relations, our paths are woven together in this particular segment of our lives.

I am so blessed to have such loving, caring, big- hearted friends who believe in the potential impact of small actions in kindness and hope. At the end of extremely stressful or discouraging days, I remind myself that as long as my actions are grounded in purpose and meaning, any bad day will pass. On the whole, I have made a difference, however small.
<blockquote>”To the world, you may only be one person; but to one person, you could mean the world.”</blockquote>

 

reliability

It always strikes me funny that my father brings up people who were part of my childhood, and asks me how they are doing as if they are all still in my life. Even though I have amazing people in my life who have been there every step of my degree, my parents still remember the kids I grew up with in elementary school better than the names of those important people in my life now. I am not sure why. Perhaps it is because I let them be more involved in my life back then, and now they don’t know the people who I care about. This is definitely a sign that I should spend more time with them and introduce my friends to them– I shall add that to my new year’s resolution.

Childhood friendships were a lot more innocent and simpler. I think I’m lucky to have two close friends from back then, now (SL, PT). Both live in the States now, but even that hasn’t gotten in the way of us being there for each other and keeping in touch. I love that. Every new year, I reflect on the people I care about and love and it surprises me how many years has gone by in those truly meaningful friendships: ER, MW, KL, KZ, ML. They have been there always, without fail, year after year. They are people I see less than once a month, but who’re always on the same page as me when we do find time to meet up and catch up. They are people I want in my life well past college. I love them. There was never any doubt about that, or of our trust.

I am a very lucky, blessed girl, and I have so much to look forward to this year (and onwards). For that fact, I still say prayers of thanks.

keeping in check

It’s scary to think, “What if I’m not ready to go to Uganda?” It feels like this idea of going to Africa, to do the Service Learning program with UBC, is so exotic and exciting that I might not really fully comprehend or grasp the dangers and risks I’m taking. How can I know if I am ready? This is a question I am struggling with, but only I can figure it out on my own.. with lots of advice from mentors, teachers, parents, and friends..

This holiday season I look forward to spending time getting to know myself better through my friends and family. Several Christmas parties have been scheduled, and I look forward to getting exams over and out of the way. It’s been a while since I’ve seen WW, KL, IL, and ER. Several events this holiday season: VPL-OAK Christmas Party, VPL Winterball, BBT Christmas Party, Nat’s Christmas Bash at Seasons in QE, and the Grand Celebration Service with Coastal in the Queen Elizabeth Theatre next Sunday. Just yesterday I had a December party with some friends:

 

I enjoy playing host

 

This holiday season I need to keep in touch with who I am, what I value, and just enjoy the simplicity of friendships and family. Sometimes slowing down and taking a rest is what it takes to move forward and mature. Pray for me, friends.

————–

Hi, I whisper into the night:

I’m not sure what I want to say to you because I am not totally sure of my own feelings. I’m tired of hiding my feelings by making up excuses for myself.. but I also can’t open up to someone yet, because I am insecure and there is no guarantee for me to get the same acknowledgement from you. I want to, but I still can’t take a chance yet. I don’t think I’m brave enough. Perhaps you care more than I think, and you will read this and take a hint. Probably not. I miss our talk under the night sky, surrounded only by the peace of the night. What a silly cliche, so bittersweet. I told you from the start how I am, and I suppose now I can conclude that you’re not the one to love and appreciate who that girl is. It’s never good for me to blog at 1am.

Good night.

————–

It’s also scary to be in touch with reality and admit things to yourself. It always seems simpler to be honest and take a chance, but in reality hiding is so much easier.

appreciation

A weekend later, with the Commonwealth Conference successfully delivered, I find myself burdened with symptoms of the flu, stacks of unfinished assignments, all coupled with the stress of the exam period. My dad came to pick me up, not because I really needed picking up (since we both bus anyhow…), but because he really wanted to be there for me since he knew I would be emotionally and physically exhausted..trekking through the frozen, icy roads, I spent quiet time reflecting on how unconditional my father’s love for me is. When we finally reached home, I walked into my room doing the usual routine of shedding my layers and gloves etc… and then I realized how clean and tidy it was. Although I usually cannot stand when someone cleans up my room, I felt so touched because my dad knew me best.. the cleanliness helped reduce my stress by a tonne.

Perhaps I do take on too much. But I do my best in everything, and besides the bi-monthly emotional or physical exhaustion… I do okay, and I keep learning and growing from my volunteerism.

I hate who I am when I am exhausted. Thanks, J, for coming back to give me a hug. I really, really appreciate the gesture of friendship. Also, K, E, and Z send me the sweetest texts at my lowest points. I appreciate you guys so much..you have no idea. God bless all my wonderful friends..

MIA until my Geog paper is finished, Chinese midterm is over, and after another week long worth of tutoring..

For now, I leave a picture from our CW Conference, which went amazingly well!

Hard work paid off.

Update: the Geography assignment required a walking tour that took almost 2 hours.. overall it was a really interesting perspective on the redevelopment of the Coal Harbour neighbourhood. I’d like to move there when I have the means to.

I’m still really sick. I also crave Chinese food, but mostly because our last chapter for my Chinese course is on Chinese food. Last night, I had green tea biscuits dipped in Nutella… with warm blueberry ginseng tea. Somehow with my eating habits I’m still losing weight. It’s wonderful.