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I was in the middle of a palace garden, sipping a latte with brown sugar, waiting for the girls to come back from the washroom … again. Everything felt like magic – something I was feeling with every breath since arriving in Istanbul.

It was sometime after the sluggish remains of jet leg crawled off my skin, but much before the peaceful protests would turn to tear gas and water bombs, and even longer before I’d sit beside crowds of formerly trafficked sex slaves breaking bread with me.

I looked at that latte, looked at the gold-framed gates leading to The Bosphorus and multi-million dollar mansions lining the strait, looked back at the latte again. Magic.

It was the spring of 2013, and I was on a trip I begged Cindy to let me join. “So, what does a girl have to do to be invited on this trip?” I began. It honestly wasn’t long before I was saving up for a trip my boss wasn’t too keen about me leaving for.

“Sex slaves? Prisons for young criminals? Eastern Europe? Three weeks without you here?” He had become more like a father than employer during my time in that office. He wasn’t entirely thrilled. “Email me, please. Email me often.”

It was a simple trip: go to Eastern Europe, adjust to the time change in Istanbul, travel through Moldova to meet formerly trafficked girls and give warm bread to kids in gypsy villages. Hang out in an orphanage, a boys prison in Lviv, and then, go home.

I had been so caught up in myself.

I was too caught up in myself, and to be certain, I was exhausted of it. When the opportunity came to get outside of my own head, I bolted. I begged. I received, and it was magic.

I thought about this event much like all of my favourite moments. It came out of nowhere while I was closing up the expensive purse store, lining up clothes in perfect order and thinking too much of myself. I’ve been exhausted of being inside my own head, again. Always. And this image of me in loose green pants and a white tee enveloped my senses. Brown sugar, espresso, Bosphorus. There wasn’t room for freaking out about my degree, a job, a love or even eating right.

I’m reminded all of the time about these moments because my head knows I need it. I need to be reminded that even when the world is about it birth something big, I don’t need to repeat the possibilities in my head.

I think we all do that; we consider all of the possibilities until we drive ourselves mad and incapable of simply being available to a moment. Whether it’s a relationship, a job, a big decision, or even a personal health goal. I’m convinced more than ever that overthinking is a disease.

See when I went to Turkey, Moldova and Ukraine, I was told over and over about the possible dangers lurking around every single corner. I was told about kidnapping and war and violence. But I didn’t give myself to it. I accepted that I didn’t know what would unfold, and experienced something so beautiful I think it might actually have been magic.

I wonder sometimes if I need to do that in my everyday life? You too?

I wonder if I need to set aside all of those things I couldn’t control in my mind or my life, sit down with a cup of joe and simply feel the magic instead.

You know, we left Istanbul for Chisinâu just a few short days after we arrived. I met up with the girls the next morning after a typically awful sleep. Cindy handed me her iPad with a news story staring back at me. “Did you hear what happened yesterday?” She said. Of course I hadn’t, but it turns out we left the day Istanbul was breaking their peaceful protests for unrest.

“Wow,” I said shocked, tired, feeling a little guilty. Cindy mentioned her gratitude and guilt too, as if perhaps we should have been there or been able to get everyone out of there if we were going to leave.

See I knew there were protests. I knew this beautiful city was fighting for something incredible to happen for their children’s future. I knew it. And when I left, I didn’t wish for things to have been perfect, I just wished I knew how to connect my fortune with their struggle.

There will be so much unrest. Jobs, family, relationships, pressures. There will be fortune for you and terrible struggle for others. There will be deep regret and wild hope. There will be so much we cannot know until perhaps it feels to late.

But I promise you, if you stop all that overthinking, even just for a moment, there will be magic too.

We were supposed to hang out the night before it all, but of course life has its ways of working out for the better.

His truck is a dusty mess; big tools, clothes, unopened Strongbow’s and paperwork are everywhere. But that passenger seat feels just like home to me. It’s a necessary thing when life feels like its lost you to find – and be – wherever it feels like home.

He tells me to wait and clears the seat of its junk, puts a gross cigarette in his mouth with a Nicorette patch on his arm, and turns to me with his impossibly ever-present smile. We get each other and I just know, it’s time to just let go.

Cousin Jordan is one of those handsome kids with charisma that everyone loves. When we’d walk through the halls at the hospital to visit Grams he’d wave to all the patients, acting as though he knew most of them by name. They all look at him confused but smitten, because that’s what Jordan does, he leaves you feeling a strange amount of things.

I didn’t know him well enough before last summer, but life has its way, right?

I spent a week with him and my sweet friend with the wild hair at his place in Penticton last August and was thoroughly annoyed and admiring of him by the end of it, because, that’s what Jordan does. We played Connect Four and drank B.C. Cherry Vodka at distilleries, watched his fast boat steal our belongings and offer them as a sacrifice to the lake while we listened to Dr. Dre; laughing uncontrollably at absolutely nothing and everything.

We wondered about our family, our history, and sat in silence confused about our future. I’d remind him of hope, and he’d say “Oh for sure,” and remind me he didn’t want to talk about Jesus.

But when you get each other, it isn’t necessary to talk about anything, not really anyways.

During that season, he spent a lot of his time at the hospital and inside Gramps house offering a glass of whiskey and simple company. He’d call me, tell me about it all, and let me know when it felt a bit too much.

And when we’d finished saying final goodbyes to Grams, he cleared the seat in that dirty old farm boy truck for me to feel at home. And we drove.

We drove down gravel roads and with dirt flying up my nose we sang Garth Brooks’ greatest hits at the top of our lungs. We said a few sad or stupid things, argued about my love life, and went back to singing louder than the truck rushing along the road.

Just last week, Cousin Jordan showed up at my house to take me to a concert I was already committed to, but couldn’t really afford. He told me selling the tickets was stupid, and we’d make a night of it. “I’m gettin’ you black-out drunk, I can’t even wait!” He joked with that smile.

I put on some shorts, hopped in that truck, and waited less than a minute before the cigarette was lit and hanging from the side of his mouth while he turned the music up loud. We sang Despacito and old country songs at the top of our lungs and drove into the city for a good old country show. And I let my hair whip in the wind as I thought to myself about how life has its way, and, how good it feels when find yourself at home.

Some people do that – they make you feel at home. I hope one day I’ll look so carefree while investing so deeply, so well, into the lives of everyone around me. I hope one day we’ll all have bits of that inside us all, so when people see us, they know they’ll be left feeling all sorts of beautiful, wild, silly, hopeful things.

I get two responses when people realize I’m nearly obsessed with boxing. Either I am an undercover psycho with a lot of anger issues, or, they laugh. Dee? Hitting heavy bags? They laugh, literally.

The first time I spent with a trainer on pads, he would stop often and say, “Dee stop smiling. It’s creepy.” I’d laugh and then realize he was serious, so I’d press my lips together as best as I could and focus on that jab-jab-cross again, even though everything in me said, “you suck at this.”

I started boxing near the end of last year after writing a profile on the ringleader of a new studio in town, and became nearly obsessive immediately. I couldn’t put a finger on it, but I was in love with boxing. Since then however, I’ve learned a lot about myself and the reason I box. Mostly, it turns out I’m a lover and a fighter, but let me explain.

At first it was to help me win a bet. Cousin Jordan and I had a bet going on to help us get back into the gym, but after that was done (and I won), I wasn’t about to leave that little studio. I had realized it wasn’t about getting sweet abs, though that would be cool. And it certainly wasn’t to work out my silent anger issues.

It was about me – just, me. While some people might think that’s a little self-indulgent, let me share with you the real reasons I’m obsessed. Hopefully by the end of this, you’ll find your own form of boxing.

FOCUS ON THAT BREATHING//

The first thing you learn in boxing is your stance and how to throw a punch properly. The next thing you learn is that you have no idea how to breathe, and, you might die. During a high intensity class, the only thing you hear is music and the trainer, who is often saying “focus on that breathing, in the nose, out the mouth …” I’m not kidding you, this lesson has followed me in my life. As soon as life starts feeling a little ‘high intensity’, you’ll find me reminding myself to focus on that breathing.

DEFINING THE OPPONENT//

Most people ask me who I picture when I’m smashing punches on the bag. And honestly, my answer is, “Negative Dee.” I could focus on everything and everyone else around me, but I actually end up losing focus, and lose sight of the real opponent. So, when I’m smashing that bag, I’m thinking about who I am, and what I’m capable of. When fear, doubt, insecurity, absentmindedness, or inability whispers to me during class, I remind myself of who I am. Boxing is a mental sport as much as it is physical, and I think life is pretty similar. Whenever I’m tempted to start thinking about external things or people to blame, I can see myself fighting the negativity inside of me instead.

RISING ABOVE//

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say doubt and insecurity so easily make their way into our life on a daily basis. It’s annoying. But for 50 minutes a day, I don’t have time to give to those thoughts, because I’ve got another five seconds to work out a few more combos. It’s a lot like every day, you know? I’ve got this option every single time I am faced with doubt or insecurity to give it the time of day, or, I could crush some goals instead. And every time I chose it, I learn to fight for me.

A lot of my life is focused on other people, which I really love. Between full time school and a handful of part-time jobs, my life gets busy. But for 50 minutes a day I get to focus on me, which I believe is necessary to be able to focus on other people well.

After coffee with a pastor I adore, he reminded me boxing can be my source of rest, if I wanted. It made me think about how I view myself, and what is important to me because ‘rest’ has never sounded optimal to me. I realized through this that oftentimes, I am not important to myself. Much like me laughing and smiling without the ability to focus during my early days boxing, I didn’t have confidence in just me. But now you’ll find me sweaty in the corner of a studio focusing on me. Breathing, letting go, learning, sometimes even smiling or laughing, and being me – just me.

(And of course, it feels pretty good to hit shit sometimes.)

Honestly, I hope you can find your form of boxing – whatever makes you passionate, thoughtful, and cognizant of you – just you.

I adored the oak but was drawn by the sounds of the playful sea. And so I find myself stuck neither here nor there because those waves always move me but I should know by now they wouldn’t keep me.

It’s always this impression of freedom – the wild thrill of those waves in the wide open – crashing, lulling and bubbling around my toes, ankles, fingers and hips, and I should leave but it moves me. It pulls me until I am covered, dripping, floating, thirsty, happy, searching, giggling, surrendering, held and left, and held, and … Read the rest of this entry »

It was a winding road and cool spring breeze. I was sitting tall behind a good man on a motorcycle, weaving through the mountains with matted hair and wanting of nothing.

“I don’t think about anything when I ride,” he said with a silly grin on his face, smitten by a piece of machinery he calls his Girl.

But I was thinking, and, it was good too. Read the rest of this entry »

A long time ago, we sat at her table – she with creamy tea, me with her watered-down coffee – looking at photos from her life. There she was with grandpa, young and in love, laughing beside an old car while Gramps held her tight. There were pictures of her as a new wife, a nurse, a mom, and as a kid too, laughing beside her brother at 12-years-old.

She told me while we were looking through those old black and white photos that her mother turned to her often to say, “Joyce, you laugh at the strangest times!”

And that, is the legacy of my grandma. This is the legacy of Joyce. Read the rest of this entry »

I don’t often give stuff up for lent. Maybe I shouldn’t write this because I’m not giving something up this year for lent either.

The thing about lent though, is that its meant to be a sacrifice or fast – replicating that of Jesus’ 40 days in the desert. I’ve heard people talk about giving up candy, coffee, potato chips or Netflix, Tinder, non-Christian music or porn, but I’ve also heard people giving up stuff like complaining, and I think we should talk about the difference between the two. Read the rest of this entry »