Thursday, January 02, 2014

Number 15

I just realized that I completed number 15 on my 35x35 list! If you haven't yet read my list and are interested in joining me on any adventures, please read my list here.

I filled a journal with photos that I like. I filled it with photos from my semester in Uganda. It was such a joy to go through my photos and lay them out and look back on a great and challenging semester. I think it is preparing me for Number 4...which, hopefully, isn't too far away...

Friday, November 22, 2013

Our deepest fear....

(This post is the expanded version of my last post which you can read here.)
I was 26 when I bought my first tube of lipstick. After days of sneaking to the counter to try it on the make up artist, a gorgeous girl with perfect eyelashes and a remarkably contoured face, told me to “just buy it.” I loved the deep pinky colour and how it somehow made my cheekbones pop. After minutes of debating and shamefully looking for an exit from the make up artist’s gaze, I pulled up my big girl panties and took the lipstick tube to the check out. 
All my life I have struggled with acne, being overweight and having crooked teeth. Playgrounds and high school hallways aren’t nice to you when you look like that. They are even meaner to creative souls who just want to express themselves and can’t understand the status quo. I have spent a great deal of my life wishing I was someone else. I moved through life too afraid to embrace what I really wanted because I always believed that somehow I wasn’t pretty enough to deserve it.
I first embraced make up because it was a mask to hide behind. It was something to cover up my inherent ugliness. It became a way for me to blend into the background and hide from my hideous exterior. I thrived in small classes, with small groups of friends and small dreams, because that was easier than facing the big, wide world of beautiful people. 
In this small world I had created, a crack was growing, a grumbling was beginning to shake the foundations and voices were getting louder and too hard to ignore. During this time I followed my heart, and on a whim, I quit university and enrolled in hair dressing school. It was in part because I was tired of writing inconsequential papers and stressing out over midterms and finals; but it was also in part to see beauty close up and marvel at its greatness. I figured that if I couldn’t be beautiful and if I couldn’t run in beautiful circles then I could at least have a front row seat as it passed by. 
The first few months of hairdressing school were hard, but mostly because my ideas of women and beauty were taking a pounding. By the time second term came around and there were clients in my chair I spent most of my time fighting to keep the anger, that was growing in my core, to stay there. I was dealing with beautiful women everyday who refused to see themselves for who they were and live up to their potential. All I was hearing was what they hated about themselves. 
Now, I might be an intelligent girl, but sometimes I’m not very smart. I worked behind the chair for a long time before I began to see myself in these women. I was just like them, unable to see past the ways I didn’t measure up. When I finally figured it out I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I wanted to throw up while running away from my problem and never again look in a mirror or step inside a salon. I knew that I had a lot of work to do on my heart and on my way of thinking. I knew that in order to maintain momentum and to force myself to figure some things out I needed a challenge. A way to push myself on this quest for beauty and to force myself to open my eyes to truths that I had chosen to remain blind to for so many years. 
I walked into the local esthetics school and enrolled in a makeup module. Now, the teaching wasn’t amazing (actually I spent about as much time with an instructor as a fish does applying lipliner) and there wasn’t a great amount of theory or direction (except for a stack of VHS tapes with really controversial names like, “Black Glamour” and “Oriental Persuasion”) but I poured myself into makeup artistry books by industry greats like Kevyn Aucoin and I began to experiment, not in covering up women’s faces but in enhancing them. I learned how to apply liquid liner, how to contour a face and how to bring cheekbones out from hiding. I loved playing with colors and shadows until one day I was brave enough to do it on myself. 
You wouldn’t believe how shy I was to wear false eyelashes for the first time, or to use an eye liner or to even purchase my first tube of lipstick (It was Caprice by Stila, in case you wanted to know) but slowly I learned that make up could be used to enhance the beauty that I already possessed despite of (or maybe even because of) my crooked teeth, excess weight and constant battle with acne. I learned to see that underneath my acne where chiseled cheekbones and in front of my crooked teeth were beautifully full lips and that what showed more than the extra pounds I carried around my midsection were big, expressive brown eyes. I realized that if I wasn’t going to claim my beauty and live in such a way that expressed it no one else would. And that my beauty would fade from this earth just as fast as summer slips from a child’s grasp. I knew that if my cheekbones, lips and big brown eyes were gifts from God then one day He would ask me what I did with them and why I wasted such beautiful resources. And that just wasn’t a conversation I was looking forward to. 
So, now I play with make up; I don’t hide behind it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for concealer on “bad acne” days and I am grateful for false eyelashes when mine feel a little thin and I know that I have a long way ahead of me in terms of living my most beautiful life but I am miles ahead of where I used to be and that is amazing. I am learning everyday that we all have things that we don’t like about ourselves but that for every one of those things are two or three more beautiful pieces to our puzzle and that is what we need to focus on and bring to light because no one else will. 
No one else can be your kind of beautiful, they are too busy being their own kind of beautiful. You are too precious, too unique to hide shamefully in a corner. I’m not saying it will be easy, I am saying that it will be worth it.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” -Marianne Williamson

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Give a little grace...

I came across this video and to be honest I can't stop thinking about it. It is haunting me because I know I would do the same. We all need to give a little ourselves. I was 26 when I bought my first tube of lipstick and when I decided that it was okay for me to wear liquid eyeliner, before that I thought that anything beyond foundation to cover an ugly face was only for beautiful people who had perfect cheekbones and long full eyelashes. It took me over a quarter of a century to learn that I wasn't just another ugly face that deserved to sit in a corner and watch the years go by. There will never be another you, there will never be another me and if we don't claim our God-given beauty then no one else will. If we don't embrace our beauty then it will reach the grave before we do and it will be just another gift that we have wasted in this all too short life.
Love who you are. You are too pretty to sit in a dark corner while beauty passes you by.

Please watch and enjoy this video.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

God's Plan

I had the opportunity to be a part of a discussion on-line the other week. It was a very sobering one. The original post was from a woman who had lost a baby recently and was having a hard time softening her heart to God. She was angry, and she was tired. She didn't know who to be more angry at, God or her community of believers. She kept hearing things like, "It's all just part of God's plan" and "God was jealous because He just needed one more angel" and "When God closes a door, He opens a window." My heart went out her, I felt her anger and distain.
When I was 17 my father suffered a massive heart attack and was in a coma and on life support. I remember hearing those same statements and I remember feeling my heart turn to stone.
When I read the first three chapters of Genesis I don't ever see God making preparations for death, I don't remember Him telling Adam and Eve that Cain would kill Abel and that it would all be part of His glorious plan. I don't remember God promising children to willing mothers and then at the last moment taking them away, and I certainly don't remember God telling me that watching my father almost die and dealing with the aftermath of strokes, heart attacks and subsequent brain injuries was a good thing and all for His glory.
Death and separation were never part of God's plan. He loves us and after we were created He would walk in the cool of shade in the Garden of Eden because He wanted to enjoy us. Simple as that. He didn't intend to make us suffer, walking around in agony, wringing our hands like helpless waifs in an abandoned forest.
So when did we start saying things like, "Don't worry, it's all just part of God's plan.", or "This must be the Lord's will."? Where do we come up with this stuff? How come we are so afraid to be angry, to grieve and to wrestle with God? When did we stop believing that God was for us? When did we start trusting that our salvation was dependent on our behaviour and not on His grace. How did we come to the conclusion that God made things happen without any thought to our wellbeing and the joy that He finds in having relationship with us?
Don't get me wrong, bad things happen BUT God is a redeemer, making right that which has ALREADY been made wrong! (For that I am SO SO SO grateful). But why can't we encourage each other to run the full gamut of human emotion? Do we think that God can't handle what we have to say? Why must we always just sit on our wooden pews with forced smiles on our faces, hands folded in our laps pretending to trust a version of God that existed in the Dark Ages?
He never planned for suffering, He never planned for death, He never planned for separation-that all came with the fall; but we are lucky enough that God sent His Son to bind us to Him until we are reunited.
To those hurting and with hard hearts I say to you, I am sorry for your loss. I am sorry that death, or disease, or separation has found you. Those are never good things to discover, but I know a God who is present, who hears the sighs of your very soul and longs to deliver you from heart-ache and malice and turmoil. Psalms tells us that He sets a table before us in the presence of our enemies. Turn to Him with your anger, your bitterness, your unbelief and your questions. He is not afraid of them and neither should you be. Wrestle with Him until you fall limp into His loving embrace and never again believe that His plan would be to cause you to suffer away from His warmth, salvation and overwhelming love.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Number 21

This past week I crossed another item off my 35 by 35 list!! I went to Bard on the beach and crossed off number 21, see a production of Hamlet on the stage. The production was mind blowing! I have seen many film versions of this tragedy and am well acquainted with the nuances and plot struggles but seeing it live was like seeing it for the first time. The level of energy brought to the stage by the actors was incredible. I always love going to Bard on the Beach and am so happy to have able to have the time to do so.
I love this tragedy because it is a struggle on all fronts, when we first meet Hamlet he has lost his father to an unexpected death and his mother to an all-too-hasty marriage and his crown to his pernicious uncle. He looses the loyalty of friends and faces the death of the woman he loves. His whole world has been taken from him and he struggles to find clarity and sanity and he loses. He was a noble prince and as he draws his final breaths his country is over run and all is lost. It is a bittersweet reminder that life is short and no one ever really has full control. I think I love it because it is a pain that I can identify with, I have lost friends and dreams and have watched as elements of a life I may have wanted slip from my fingers.
There is not an ounce of hope in the whole play which I suppose is why I like it, because it reminds me of the role that hope plays in my daily life and that even a broken and wounded heart can live out a redemptive story. I like it because it reminds me of the power of story. For just as Horatio is left alive and charged to tell Hamlet's story it reminds me that we are to learn from the positive and negative turns of each others stories and propel each other into living a life of intention and understanding.
It is a beautiful tragedy and one that will probably stay with me for many years to come!
This photo is for Vanessa! She attended the play with me!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cruise ships...

A few months ago I decided to challenge myself and create a 35 by 35 list. It is a noble goal and many of the items on that list are no small undertaking. Number 14 was to get a job on a cruise ship and sail the world. I sort of based my whole list on my confidence to achieve such a job, hence the amount of travel to far away places. I was going to end up on a boat going in one of those directions and cross items off my list one by one while getting paid to go there. It was a brilliant plan if I do say so myself, I was pretty proud of my resourcefulness, after all have you checked the cost of flights from Prince George to Europe and the great beyond lately?? Also, have you checked the amount of holiday time hairdressers get these days?? Sheesh, too much money and not enough time to get there...
So, I figured I was pretty brave, I submitted an application and a head shot and waited and waited and waited. I started saving money for flights to an interview and worked out how much I would have to work and save to make enough to pay off my debt and fly to London for training. I thought and thought about what I would have to say to the managers at my salon when I had to ask for the time off to go interview for another job and how I would give my notice and be fair to them without burning too many bridges. 
Then, it happened. I got an email invitation to an interview in Montreal. I was so happy, I had to send another photo, my resume and any photos of any tattoos or visible piercing that I may have. I started to price flights and asked friends if I could stay with them. I started counting down the days, the days till my interview and the days until I could pack my bags and shake the dust of this town off my boots as I flew over the Atlantic to my favorite city!! I planned my good bye and was genuinely happy to leave behind a few people that were cluttering up my life with false niceties that I was genuinely over. 
And then, the next morning I got the email I had been waiting for, the one that would confirm my spot and the interview and would turn all my planning to reality. But the email read differently than I had expected. Instead of the sound of the open ocean calling my name I heard the sounds of thunder and walls crashing around me. I had been rejected. They regretfully informed me that they were unable to offer me an interview. Why? I had done everything right. Because of my tattoos.
Because of those things right there. When I protested that I understood that they had to be covered at all times and was aware that the make up required to cover them would come at my cost they still denied me. I was heart broken and I honestly cried for a few days and contemplated giving up and throwing my 35 by 35 list away and never stepping out of my comfort zone again (I know this is mellow dramatic but this has been a dream of mine for a few years and I only recently learned that their recruiting office is only a 30 minute bus ride from where I used to live in Montreal).
But then I realized just how much I love my tattoos and how their purpose is to remind me everyday to walk by faith and to trust the Lord and then I realized that maybe covering them up would stop me from remembering the Lord's grace and that everyday is a choice to glorify Him and those are things that I need not forget. And anything that causes me to forget just how far the Lord has brought me and just how far I have yet to go cannot be a good thing. So, thanks Steiner (the agency that hires and places hairdressers on cruise ships) for the reject, you may have saved me from some compromising decisions when I was far away from home and far away from believers who would help steer me in the right direction in the face of temptation in its many forms.
I also came to the conclusion that any dream worth having is a dream worth fighting for, and if a dream comes easily then what did I learn in the process? Probably not much and something I didn't fight for would probably become just another memory taken for granted.
So, there you have it. I tried for that job, but I didn't get it. So instead of crumpling up my list and tossing the baby with the bath water I have decided to replace my number 14. However, I don't know what I will replace it with. A year of volunteering abroad? Six months of travel? Joining a missionary orgainzation (I hear Mercy Ships takes hair dressers...)? What will it be, any thoughts??

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

35 by 35 update!

At the beginning of the month I posted my Bucket list for the next few years or so (a lady never gives away her age). I thought that an update might do!
This past month I have managed to cross #6- Get a new tattoo and #9- Read the Great Gatsby off my list.

Number 6-
I got a little flock of birdies on my shoulder. My friend Krista and I got tattooed what we were Seattle a few weeks ago. We got tattooed at the Artful Dodger. It was a great shop with lots of art and fantastic staff. We were so thrilled! My tattoo represents my family Each with our own personalities and imperfections.

Number 9- Read the Great Gatsby
I thought for sure that I had read this before, after all I did go to school and the plot was familiar, however I have the sort of brain that doesn't retain anything it reads so I thought I would read it again. Turns out that maybe I hadn't read it before. My reviews, I loved it. It is a beautiful story of the fickleness of the human heart, the importance of dreaming and the danger of living with only one dream and how a person's heart is complex and not always "right". Favourite quote: No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart. Beautiful, simply beautiful. Thank you F. Scott. You have impressed me.

So there you have it, two down, thirty-three still to go.