Posted in Inspirational

Summer Reads

I haven’t gotten to read a lot of books of my choosing the last couple of years because I’ve gone back to school and the textbook reading has been non-stop…especially since I’ve taken classes through 2 summers.  If anything, it’s made me even more determined because if I have to read all this other stuff, I’m damn-well going to read something I want!  So I spend a significant amount of time finding books I want to read in Chapters, Amazon and in my parent’s library.  My sister reads a lot too so she supports my habit on birthdays and Christmas.  When the dreamboat and I find our forever house, I want a library in the dining room.  I can dream!  For now though, here’s a list of what I’ve been reading: Enjoy!

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Ahh, the sisters.  I was watching a WWII documentary in the Spring and Unity Mitford was mentioned as one of Hitler’s girlfriends. So I looked her up (I always look stuff up when I’m watching tv: what did we do before laptops, smartphones and ipads???), and it turns out she was part of a fascinating blueblood family in England who were in the news a lot for being so political, on both sides of the spectrum.  I’m fascinated by English nobility at the turn of the century (oh, Downton Abbey!), political families and especially sisters.  These sisters did not disapoint!  I would recomend this book to anyone who likes history and drama, this book had oodles of both!

???????????????????????????????This one’s a re-read, originally read by me in school…grade 4 or 5 I think.  I remember loving it then, and in line at Chapters a month ago I saw it and freaked out!!!!  I bought it, read it again, and totally understood why my young self was so smitten by it.  It’s about 5 kids and their adventures in a secret world under their playhouse, what kid wouldn’t love that?!?  I’m so excited for my neice to be old enough to read it, I’m almost bursting!  I think it’s so, so important for kids to get a healthy dose of fantasy in their lives.  My imagination, I believe, was formed this way and it’s still a source of immense pleasure and even tangible use for me.

???????????????????????????????Inside the Land of OG!

???????????????????????????????I read this for an online course I’m taking until the end of August, and it’s a fantastic book!  If you’re at all interested in the most studied religious relic of all time and wonder at it’s legitimacy, give this a read for sure.  The book goes through the trial and crucifixion of Christ, the history of the Shroud, the possible scientific explanations for it and reasons why some call it a forgery, as well as the 1988 carbon-dating that declared its origins in Medieval Europe.  This book got me really excited to write a paper on the topic of the shroud, and that’s no small deal!

 

???????????????????????????????On the lighter side, I can never resist a book on French style!  This one is replete with drawn pictures and photographs of stylish women, as well as rules, tips and ideas on how to present more like a chic Parisian woman today.  I will use this as a reference for years to come!

???????????????????????????????Oooh La La!  Style me French 🙂

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A stack of books I’d love to have done by summer’s end…but realistically, I’m hoping to have 2 of them read 🙂  I may be the last person on earth to read the shack, it’s kind of embarassing.  So I should probably get on that first.  The second one down was written by my first religion prof at Trinity, and he kind of blew my mind every class.  I can’t wait to read NT theology and its quest for relevance, because I think this is so relevant for Christians post scientific revolution!  Present Perfect I picked up after I learned I’m a perfectionist, and a perfectionist is not what we’ve always thought it was (!).  I’ve read the first part, it’s very enlightening.  Then we’ve got F. Scott, near and dear to my heart; this was a gift last Christmas, so it’s been waiting patiently in line.  Bill Maher is the Dreamboat’s book, and I always find him equally chalenging (to not want to punch him) and thought-provoking.  I try not to just read stuff I already agree with, and although I do agree with a lot of what he says, I don’t agree with a lot of it too.  It’s a good challenge.  Then last but not least, we have the human trafficking book.  I know this won’t be a feel-good read, but I think it’s so important to be informed on the evil in the world so we can contribute more to the good.

So there you have it, my reading list!  Let me know what you’re reading this summer, good or bad 🙂

 

Posted in Inspirational

5 Things: A list of what I’m loving right now.

For those of you who’ve been following for awhile, you’re aware of my love of listing.  Those of you who are new, I’m going to tell you something: Lists are gifts to us directly from baby Jesus.

This week I’ve been thinking about being more mindful and thankful for all the great things I have in my life, in order to focus on the positive and maybe even enhance it a bit.  Cuz my life is cool, celebrate!

*My new nephew and I, enjoying some cuddles!*Me and Batman.

So here’s my five for January, enjoy 🙂

5) No wheat diet. I never thought I’d be one of these people, because I likes me some wheat, but I could no longer ignore what’s happening around me: we are living in an increasingly wheat free world, and it seems like every one of my friends who goes to a naturopath ends up giving up wheat and immediately raving about how good they feel.  Well now it’s ME raving!!!  I’m eating almond flour bread, coconut flour cookies, lots of veggies and a a little meat.  I feel so good right now!  I’m working on the dairy component, and I have to say coconut yogurt is yum.  I ate some cheese today though, so you know…baby steps 🙂

almond flour bread

4) My history class.  Right now I’m taking Tudor and Stuart England, and oh my goodness, it’s like watching an amazing documentary twice a week, only better because I get to ask questions.  I can’t beleive this is how I get to spend my days!

Henry-VIII-and-his-wives_-252x300

3) Harry Potter.  Right now I’m on The Goblet of Fire, and I’m alternating between that and the movies.  I never got into the books when they came out, but my sister told me I had to do it so I started the first one during Christmas break.  I’m finding that reading something for myself during school is actually helping me focus on my school work even more, because it makes me happy.  Nice 🙂

 

2) My new yellow peeptoes.  Sometimes a pair of shoes really does lift your mood, and these are just so special and fun!  I got them from Modcloth, and I’m just itching for Spring to arrive so I can wear them outside.  Because, you know, I’ve been wearing them inside every day.  All day.
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1) My husband.  I know I know, he’s always on my list.  But right now, I’m so super duper proud of him I could burst.  While I’ve been in school basking in the comfy world of academia, he has finished our renovations, staged and sold our house, then sold a whole bunch of the stuff we didn’t want to move and packed the rest to come live with me in BC.  He quit his job, he’s leaving the home he worked hard to buy on his own, and he’s just done it with so much generosity and patience that I am in awe.  The icing on this perfectly baked man cake is that the other day, I realized that maybe one of the reasons I fell in love with him in the first place is that he looks like a blond JFK…Seriously, I don’t know how I got so lucky.

JFKcandyheartpink

 

 

 

Posted in Inspirational

Forced Slow Down

This past month school has been so intense I’ve had little time for anything else.  I’ve taken stats, marriage and family, human kinetics, visited my husband to help pack and get the house ready to sell, done a fashion shoot for my etsy store…and read and studied and crammed and written tests.  I’ve sat in the same classroom all day every day for four weeks.  I’m in the last phase of my summer semester, and this week I was looking forward to starting my online psych course as well as tennis three times a week.  For the first time in 6 months, I won’t have to wake up at 6:00 am, and I’ll have time to plan and cook meals and start my new exercise regime. 

Saturday was crazy busy all day, so on Sunday I woke up, made coffee and grabbed a muffin that I made the day before, and watched the social network to relax.  It was heaven!  No studying, no reading, no worrying.  After the movie ended, I got up to take Stella for a walk, after which I would clean my room, organize my closet, workout, and get ready for the next few weeks.  I skipped down the stairs, leash in hand, with my Mom behind me going to her eliptical in the garage.  All of a sudden, I was hitting cement hard with the top of my foot, scraping my limbs up as I went down.  OUCH.  My Mom went into Mom mode, ordering me to sit down, then checking my foot for swelling and seeing if I could walk.  I hobbled back into the house and put my foot up, googling whether it was a sprain or break and how to treat it.  I was optimistic at first, thinking I could ice it a bit and be back to normal in time for tennis the next evening. 

Yeah…that didn’t happen.  I ended up having to drop tennis and have spent the last two and a half days mostly on the couch.  I hate this.  The more I use my ankle, the more it swells and hurts, so staying off it for the time being is best.  Walking my dog is painful, so I haven’t gone out yet besides doing that.  UGH!!!!  It’s terrible being incapacitated, and over the past couple of days my empathy for chronic pain sufferers has increased.  My appreciation for my extremely good health most of the time has increased also.  It’s funny what you don’t realize when you don’t experience it, like what it would feel like to not be able to do what you want to do.  I always assume I’ll be able to do what I want to do in life, with hard work of course.  I never think about not accomplishing my goals because of physical infirmity.  Funny what we take for granted, non?  Because some people deal with this stuff and much worse for their whole lives.  While I’m still frustrated and annoyed with my condition right now, I have to pause and be grateful that it’s temporary…and minor.

What are you grateful for today?

Posted in Inspirational

Because I want to

I didn’t realize how my decision to return to school would bring out such strong opinions in people.  I’ve had a lot of people get very excited and seen their chests swell at the idea.  I’ve also had people tell me it’s ridiculous and a waste, and I have the strong impression that their idea of me getting out somewhere around 40 is as ridiculous as the world’s oldest Titanic survivor deciding she wants to be a competitive ice dancer.  Both of these reactions, the posititve and the negative, confuse me.  I’m not entirely sure why I see life as a series of moments and stages, and other people see it as begining, work, and end.  At this stage, I just want to go to school.

I’ve had trouble explaining this to my husband as well, who is very supportive of me getting an education and being able to have the career I want.  He doesn’t understand why “because I want to” is a valid reason for an adult.  He also didn’t have a Mom who returned to school when she was my age, or get to see her look of bliss when talking about her English Lit class.  I did, and I understand now how valubale this all is.  I didn’t think it was a big deal when my Mom went back to school when I was 10, and got confused then when people would freak out about it, asking how she could possibly keep it all together.  There were 4 of us kids, my Dad worked very hard to support all of us, I made dinners for the family and we all had chores.  It’s just the way it was.  When she finished and was working at her first tech company, that was just the way it was too.   Now she’s the one supporting the house doing something she loves, and my Dad gets a lot more time doing what he likes to do, and he’s happy.  And it’s just the way it is.

I’m going to school to get a degree so that I can work somewhere in the field of psychology.  Where doesn’t matter at this point, because for now I’m just going to enjoy going to school.  It’s just the way it is.

Posted in Inspirational

2012: Enter the Student

I think I may like Januaries.  Three years ago I met Mr. Dreamy.  More acurately, I requested Mr. Dreamy as a Facebook friend because the right column of my home screen suggested I add him, then he thought I was foreign and in need of a Visa by way of marriage to him.  Once he realized I was (somewhat) local, he started talking to me and we ended up getting married.

That was last January, a year later on the day we met.  We drove to Banff and got married by an officiant we had just met, a witness we payed, and a photographer.  It was seriously the most emotional and beautiful moment of my life thus far.

This January, I will be re-entering the school system to finish up my degree.  I have always wanted a university degree, but I wasn’t focused or committed enough to finish it in my early twenties.  Instead I got married and worked crappy jobs, moved around a lot, bought a house, got a dog, dealt with my brother dying, started a business, got divorced, gave the dog away, went bankrupt, moved in with my parents, cried a lot, made a lot of friends, eventually found an amazing job, slowly found joy, met Mr. Dreamy and moved to Alberta.  Throughout all this I think I’ve learned who I am and what I’m for.  I can do a lot of things, but one thing makes me feel happier and more fulfilled than anything else, and that’s helping people navigate their lives: psychology. I finally figured that out a few months ago.  And so, being a woman of action, I applied to a school I wasn’t sure would accept me, and made a plan I didn’t know would work.  And here I am.

I quit my night job a few weeks ago and quit my day job a few days ago.  I am enrolled and the tuition is payed.  I am terrified.  Lucky for me, I have parents who think I can do anything I want to do and actively help me do whatever I need to do, like live in their house for free while I’m a student. I also have a husband who trusts me and wants to support me in becoming the woman I was created to be.  He means it, he even wrote it in his wedding vows.  So even though this is pretty crazy, I think that I can do it, and do it well.  Mr. Dreamy and I will be apart until he finishes up the renovations and sells the house.  That part will be very hard, I know.  We’re doing it anyway.

I love my life.

Posted in Inspirational

Where does the good go?

Yes, it’s the name of a Tegan and Sarah song.  It’s also a great question; where does YOUR good go?  Here’s the thought: we all have an huge capacity for doing good.  So that means everything from making someone feel good about themselves to devoting your life to AIDS research, and everything in between.  Most of us, myself included are focused on being happy, which if we really think about it, is a by-product of being productive.  So why not focus on being productive?  I don’t mean having fun or making money, I mean being productive by making the world you live in better.  By saying a kind word to a stranger.  By throwing a party and raising money for orphanages in Chernobyl.  By volunteering at a local soup kitchen once a week.  The possibilities are endless, and every single option will do two things: it will improve the lives of others, and it will make you feel better.

So the present question is this:  What are you currently doing in your life that takes the place of serving?  Are you watching tv?  Are you working?  Are you keeping yourself so busy with activities and tasks that you have no time to do what’s important???

Where does YOUR good go?  I’d love answers from whoever’s brave enough to respond.

Posted in Inspirational

Get OFF your couch

I’m not sure what it is, but lately I’ve spoken to a bunch of people who just don’t get it.  AT ALL.  Ok, I don’t get everything, far from it…but something I have learned in my 29 years is how things work in business, relationships, life.  I know this sounds arrogant, but it’s really quite simple: it’s about Connection.

Now, let me give you some background on me.  I have always, always liked and been interested in people.  I make friends easily, because I genuinely like almost every person I meet for one reason or another.  It’s not an act to accomplish my own ends, I want to know who you are, what you like, where you come from…all of it.  I learned this from my father, who would often take me to work tile-setting with him, and I would watch him interact with people.  The man has friends everywhere, because he’s friendly.  He’s genuine.  He’s interested.  In my childhood, I learned to love people.  In my adulthood, I learned that this single skill can mean the difference between success and failure.  Cuz guess what?  The world is run by people.  The more of them you know who like you, the better chance you have of making an impact.  Simple, right?  Every person has a choice of who they want to work with, hire, or buy from.  Let’s be honest, products and services aren’t that different anymore.  You’re 100% more likely to choose the guy you like over the guy who’s a jerk or who you’ve never met.

So what does this translate to?  Spending time on relationships.  You’re better off doing that than spending time looking online for a job or writing your name on a service sign and sticking it on the side of the road.  You’re better off meeting one new person than watching a tv show at home.  Because relationships do take time, yes…but making an impact can take a second.  And showing up is half the battle.  Now personally, I have to get this off my chest.  I just had a ridiculous exchange with someone who, at one time was my friend.  He commented that my life is too easy because I have had vehicles bought for me.  Just after I started my business, my marriage (and subsequently my life) completely fell apart, and I lost everything while trying to maintain an image of success.  I’ve had a lot of help in my life, and it was those few years when I needed it the most.  Conversely, I have also worked harder than most people my age at my own business, spent 3 years networking consistently in the lower mainland, volunteered at numerous different organizations, used my connections to get several well paying jobs that I have been qualified for through school and a lot experience, and have used a fluke situation to now land my dream job at an organization I’m proud of.  Did I get help?  Definitely.  Did I use every opportunity that came my way to develop a life for myself that I’m proud of?  Yes.  I refuse to feel spoiled for getting help when I needed it, and I refuse to not help others when they need it.  This is how life works.  You can stay at home, feel sorry for yourself and lament the supposed ease of other’s situations…or you can get out there, use what you got and make a life you love.

It’s up to you.

Posted in Inspirational

How to Change the World

Absolutely everything and everyone has a story.  We rarely think about it, but it’s true.  The chair you’re sitting in, the man who pumps your gas, the newspaper you read every morning: they all came from somewhere.  Every single thing that is created must have a creator.  And since I was a little girl, I have been fascinated by the lives of anyone and everyone who changes the world in some way.  The way I see it, we’re all born into something: it could be wealth and priviledge, talent, amazing opportunity, beauty…whatever.  We’re all born into a set of circumstances, and all born with gifts.  I read a quote once that I loved that said “with every child that is born, the potential of the human race is born again”.  I truly believe that, because every single person has the potential to change the world.  You may not believe it, but you do.  There are some characteristics I’ve recognized in great leaders, and here they are:

1)      Great people are often born in less than great circumstances.  We’ve all heard stories about people born into poverty, civil unrest, or in a time when their gender or race had no rights.  People who are destined to be great never accept the circumstances they’re born into; they fight them.  And because they are great, others will follow.  Like Emmeline Pankhurst, a suffragette who rallied women to fight for the vote, or Dr. Martin Luther King, who united so many Americans to put an end to racial segregation.  These people didn’t look around them, shrug, and go about their business.  They devoted their lives to making things right in the worlds they lived in.

2)      Great people create opportunities where others see none. I talk to so many people who will tell me what they really and truly want to do with their lives…and then with their next breath tell me why they can’t.  I find this endlessly frustrating.  The world is full of stories of people like Queen Elizabeth I, who was the ruler of England in a time where women were property!  Men were trying to assassinate her for much of her reign because she was a woman, she was protestant, she was a bastard…but instead of running away and hiding or laying down and crying, she became one of the greatest rulers England ever had. 

3)      Great people give up their own comfort to accomplish what they need to.  It’s very comfortable to stay home, not step up, and never do anything you’re not completely sure of.  And that is our modern affliction: comfort.  Why fight for anything when you could just stay home and watch Oprah?  It’s just too hard.  Well, it’s a very good thing it wasn’t too hard for Winston Churchill to go into politics, become Prime Minister and enter the second World War, or the world could be completely different right now.

4)      Great people embrace fear and lean into pain.  Human beings like what’s easy; of course we do!  We want to get rich quick, avoid pain as much as possible, and find the quickest way to have a simple, happy life.  It’s not wrong to want that, it IS wrong to live that way though.  Fear and pain are a part of life, and if we avoid them, we’ll have to face them some day anyway.  I say better to face them head-on when they come, like the Mirabal sisters fighting the fascist dictatorship controlling the Dominican Republic.  These sisters risked their lives to be leaders in a time when they were definitely not supposed to be; they gave their people hope that there was a better way to live.  They were killed for standing up for what they believe in…but now the Dominican Republic is free.

5)      Great people are not always happy people, but are always passionate people.  My ex husband once told me that I’m the kind of person who will never be happy.  I think he meant it as a sad observation, but I took it as an observance of potential greatness.  No one who is content with the status quo will ever change the world.  Now, of course you can be happy and see things that are wrong with the world.  But the question is, what are you willing to risk to change what you see?  If you’re too happy with what you have, the likelihood of you screwing that up to devote your life to a cause goes way down.  This is why most people will get married, have kids, work at a job, buy stuff, and die.  And that will be their lives.  I used to really wish that was what I wanted…and I wondered what was wrong with me that most people I knew were content to get “good jobs” and not need to search for more and I did.  Why most people gave up wanting to change the world in Elementary School and I still can’t.  Why people I know can stay in relationships that make them less than they are…but I didn’t.  I don’t get any of it, not at all.  And now that I’m older, I’m really, really glad I don’t.  Some of the greatest artists, politicians, and scientists on earth have been desperately unhappy for various reasons; but they’ve all been passionate.  They’ve all been driven to contribute.  They’ve all changed the world in their own way.  Depression is not a prerequisite for greatness…but neither is happiness a reward of it.

So this is my new blog focus: once a week, starting this Sunday, I will present you, dear reader, with a biography on one great person.  He or she will not always be good or just, but will always be a leader, and a catalyst for some kind of change.  These people will have done things as seemingly small as inventing breakfast cereal, or as big as leading a country into a golden age.  The characteristics modeled by these great leaders should be meditated upon, because it’s likely you’ve not met anyone in person who has them.  In a world of increasing apathy and disconnectedness, we need to learn about these leaders to understand what is possible, what is desirable, and what is in danger of being lost in our society full of comforting distractions.  We don’t have less to fight in our modern age…we’ve just all been lulled to sleep by consumerism and entertainment. 

It’s time to wake up.

Posted in Inspirational

The Fence Post Theory

It is absolutely ridiculous how many peanut M&M’s I ate today.  The only thing more ridiculous is the fact that I don’t like peanut M&M’s that much.  I like them, just not more than cheesecake (which I had last night), homemade chocolate chip cookies, or ice cream.  There’s a party bag of these peanut M&M’s in my house though, and no one home but me, so I’ve been eating them all day.

The thing is, I’ve been doing that a lot a lot lately.  Eating for no reason.  Mostly out of boredom.  And yes, you can tell.  At least I can tell.  I’m the heaviest I’ve been in quite some time.  Usually I gain weight because I’m depressed, but…I’m not depressed right now.  I think I’m just forgetful.  See, there are things I want in life.  I want to help people, I want to be creative, I want to write.  I want to be able to go anywhere and do anything and not have a self-conscious thought in my head.  What I really want is to be free to pursue anything, and not let anything or anyone hold me back; least of all myself.  And so we have the fence post theory; my pastor spoke about it once at church.  We all have a destination in our heads of where we’d like our lives to end up.  If you don’t have that, you need to think about it.  I want to have a life full of stories.  I want to try out tons of different jobs, live in different cities, study different things…I want to be spontaneous and free and able to respond to my environment appropriately when called on to do so.  If I have to speak, attend big gatherings, meet a whole bunch of new people, whatever, I want to always be ready to do that.  And so, the fence post: I know where I want to go.  So every choice I make in my life needs to line up with the reality I want to create like fence posts; they need to make a straight line toward my last fence post.  Any choice I make that does not line up with my desired end is like a fence post planted way off course.  Lately I’ve been eating bad things way too much, making me feel sick and gigantic and not myself.  Now why would I do that?  It makes no sense, right?  The only reason to plant fence posts any old place is because I’ve lost sight of that last fence post.  And indeed, I have.

And so I started thinking today that not only do I need to stop eating crap, I need to get a trainer.  A trainer is definitely in line with my last fence post.  Good thing most of my latest choices (sewing class, chess club, writing more) other than the eating thing line up as well.

Posted in Inspirational

Latest Support Letter

Some house church ladies with Jamie and I in CubaDear you,

I got home from Cuba this past week, and I just have to share with you what God is doing! First, it’s clear to me in a whole new way the importance of the work WorldServe is doing in these communities; we have such a different idea of church in North America than they do in impoverished nations. I have been going to church my whole life, grew up in a Christian home, I went to Bible College…and I have never experienced a community of believers like I did this past week! The Cubans’ faith in the face of the social and economic struggle they deal with every day is just amazing. We met so many Cuban Christians who were struggling with poverty, family troubles, a government who’ll use any excuse to cut them off from travelling, expel them from school, and even put them in jail. In the face of all of it, they rejoice. They know that all they have comes from God, and they rejoice. They’re faithful to God, and ask for more blessings by fasting and praying earnestly. Seeing their faith in action, experiencing church services and fellowship with them…it really influenced me in my Christian walk! God showed me what our relationships and our church services could look like…and it gave me hope. I want to share what I saw with everyone I meet!

The biggest thing I realised while in Cuba is how we could use some more Cuba back home. I’m really looking forward to sharing what our group experienced with churches, youth groups, women’s groups and anyone else God sees fit to put in my path. We have some events set up for the next few months where I’ll be speaking on what it’s like to be a Christian in Cuba, as well as how we can all get connected to believers in other countries as the body of Christ. I have so many stories to share about how God is providing building materials, food and ministry opportunities over there in spite of what seem to be insurmountable odds. Cubans don’t see them as insurmountable though…they see them as bumps in the road that God will navigate for them. And they’re right!

The kind of things I’ll be sharing with churches and small groups will be stories like meeting Lucianno, a prison Chaplan, at the Assemblies of God office. Lucianno used to be supported by WorldServe until his supporter stopped giving, and when he stopped receiving a wage he continued to faithfully minister to prisoners as the denomination gave him what little they could spare so he and his family could eat. He gave us a letter thanking him from one of the prisoners who’d come to know Christ because Lucianno was there. Yesterday I shared his story with a donor on the phone as an example, and she decided to sponsor him along with 2 Chinese pastors, just like that! God has a plan to care for his people…and we really do get to be a part of it!!! The more people here I get to share these stories with, the more men and women like Lucianno will be provided for. Just think of the impact that could make!

I’m still raising support for myself here at WorldServe Ministries; I need 50 people to be giving $100 per month, and this is including all expenses. I know that God has a plan to provide for my needs as well as the needs of the Cuban and Chinese believers we’re working with…I also know that 50% of the people who receive this letter will respond. Has God chosen you to respond? I have enclosed a card should you choose to reply, and thank you for taking the time to read this even if you don’t. I would love to have you be involved in the evangelism, church planting and development that will be going on this year…hope to hear from you soon!

Sincerely,

Brianna Carson