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Showing posts from November, 2009

Mondays Mean More: Waiting

Last night I went to an Advent service at a friend's church. Advent hasn't really been a part of my church experience over the years, and I am still figuring it out.

I figured out, for example, that Advent is about waiting. Although I was highly distracted for most of the evening, this prayer grabbed my heart.

It is you.
I am looking for you.
You whose face will let me love
You whose hands will look like home
You whose path will unwind my longing
You whose words will still my fear
You whose arms are my belonging
You whose table is never empty
You whose shelter is never lean
You whose presence is kept as promised.
I am looking for you.
I am looking for you.

I've been wanting to write about Waiting for awhile...I tried explaining this (briefly) to my friend Nadine tonight. She asked what I was going to say about Waiting, and I said, "How we spend most of our time waiting, but no one writes about it, talks about it, makes it into a movie, or really values it."

We wait.
We find…

Ever After

I can't help myself. Ever After is my favourite chick flick.

The music.
The wit.
The simplicity.
The costumes.
The eye-rolling unrealism.
The fairy tale ending.

I understand why others cringe - but this scene makes me smile more than I usually admit.

The thing that does make me cringe in this movie is the accent - no one sounds remotely realistic. In fact, as I watch it, I am suddenly and unfortunately reminded of this clip from Friends, when Phoebe and Monica are visited by an old, and rather obnoxious, friend.

Saturday Sing Along: Giving In to Christmas

It started earlier this week, when Trans Siberian Orchestra popped into my iTunes shuffle.

O Come All Ye Faithful/O Holy Night

Last night we discussed The Sound of Music. Particularly this song.

I remembered that it's actually kind of a Christmas movie. And I wanted to watch it. Because of this song:

(covered below by Pomplamoose)

Today, I attended the Elektra Women's Choir Christmas Concert, entitled "Chez Nous." Last year I attended a Christmas chorale show as well - slightly different, but equally lovely. I'm going to make it a annual tradition to kick off the season with some sort of concert.

I could go on at length about today's, but I'll summarize:
children + singing = adorable.
upright bass + guitar = relaxing groove.
choir + handbells = heaven.

I was reminded of how much I love this song:

Huron Carol

And this song.

Sleigh Ride - please ignore the terrible, terrible photo montage.

On the way home we listened to this song, which made me feel both happy and lonely…

Wednesday's Word: Strengthsfinder

A few months back, I did a Strengthsfinder assessment, a test based on Gallup research that identifies your top 5 strengths (out of 34 possibilities) and is tied to several books on leadership and personal development. The basic underlying principle that I gleaned from Now, Discover Your Strengths is that the "most effective people are those who understand their strengths and behaviors. These people are best able to develop strategies to meet and exceed the demands of their daily lives, their careers, and their families."

What doesn't want to be a person that "exceeds the demands of their daily life?" I know I do.

And I'm working with the following strengths:

1. Input

"The world is exciting precisely because of its infinite variety and complexity. If you read a great deal, it is not necessarily to refine your theories but, rather, to add more information to your archives. If you like to travel, it is because each new location offers novel artifacts and fac…

Two'sday: From My Black Book of Poetry

Why I Ended It

I have spent
too much time
thinking about you.

I want to know your mind,
hear your heart.

I am afraid
of what I cannot read
in your eyes.

And when I dream of you,
it is not of quiet moments
or wedding bells,

But loathsome quarrels
and the tension in your shoulders
when we don’t


I fell in love with a tyrant
Master with an icy heart
Temperamental and unrelenting
Demanding everything

You fell in love with a maiden
Woman of beauty and spirit
Beckoning with rhythmic voice
Offering your freedom

Now we sit on the same slick shore
While the waves lick at our toes
And the roar I hear
And the pulse you feel
Come from the same dark sea


Tofino 152
Originally uploaded by bethaf. I would like to live by the sea someday.

Mondays Mean More: Risk

Whenever I think of "risk" I think of two things. 1. The board game. and 2. Men playing it. Risk is unavoidably male in my mind. Men playing games that last for days. Strategizing. Plotting. Trying to take over the world.

I've never played. I've never wanted to. I think I've always assumed that I'll be overtaken after a careless calculation or oversight. Or that it will drag on forever, I'll get bored, throw my chips in and be officially laboured Loser: Non-Ruler of the World.

(Interestingly, my dad has an old, old game that is similar to Risk called Diplomacy. But it seems to me that Diplomacy is quite a different game. In this board game, you should be making alliances and bartering for connections between countries. If you wanted to form diplomatic relations with Great Britain, it would cost you more than say, Spain. Bringing Iran into your fold of friends would require a very specific set of goods to trade and careful manoeuvrings with other countries. …

Friday Vari-e-tay: Unfinished Business

Thanks to the beauty of technology, I am blogging this to the FUTURE.

These are all the tabs I have open on Wednesday, articles and things I wanted to read and/or blog about before I went on vacation.

Emerging Women

Great Songs You've Never Heard from 2009

Ogden Wedding Teaser

Why I'm Not a New Calvinist

Jesus with Prostitute

The Crappiest Dad at Mothers' Morning Out

Wednesday's Word: The Shack

A year after the rest of Christendom, I have finally read The Shack.

Two things surprised me.

1. The theology wasn't nearly as wacked out as I'd been influenced to believe. In fact, I don't think the theology is any more misinformed than my own theology is. What I mean is, it's not perfect, but I don't think it's that far off. I would be totally willing to suggest the representation of God in this book as a decent starting point for understanding who He is. And it was a good reminder to me of the centrality of relationship in my worldview and interaction with God.

2. The writing was awful. The story itself has great potential, and there were moments of really powerful dialogue. But I wasn't even halfway through the prologue before I thought, This is going to be painful. This may be in part that it's a very didactic text (that is, a text intended to teach a specific point). But for a book that I believe made it on the NY Times Bestsellers' List, I was s…

Two'sday: Announcements


1. I am going away for the rest of my vacation and leaving the internet behind. No blogging until Sunday at the earliest. Farewell.

2. I got my nose pierced today. I had it pierced once before, six years ago (SIX YEARS AGO!?), but took it out after 4 months because of infection and a pride issue. I hope that this time around, neither pride nor pain force out my lovely ring.

Sundays are Fundays: Or Not

Today has been a good day, don't get me wrong. But my mood these past weeks is a bit like the weather. Somber.

In the last couple of months, I have really been soaking things in. And one of the things I've observed is that life is complicated. Sometimes crappy. Often more difficult than we expect. And there isn't always much that I can do or say to people in difficult places.

Yesterday, this song came on my shuffle, and I thought, This is it. When I don't know what to say to my friends, this is what I really want them to know.

So this is for all my friends whose Sundays aren't Fundays.

Katie Herzig - "I Hurt Too"

When you’re weary
And haunted
And your life is not what you wanted
When you’re trying so hard to find it

When the lies speak the loudest
When your friends are starting to leave
When you’re broken by people like me

I hurt too, I hurt too

When an ocean sits right between us
There is no sign that we’ll ever cr…

Saturday Sing Along: Waking Up

It surprises me, what songs are in my head when I wake up in the morning. Today it was Lady Gaga's Paparazzi, but I hate that song too much to link it here. It's horrible. Awful. And I don't know why it was in my head.

This week, other popular songs have included:

1. Jason Mraz - "I'm Yours"

I think this is because I watched a cover of this song, with lyrics to place an order at MacDonalds:

2. Florence + the Machine - "Kiss with a Fist" and "Between Two Lungs"

3. "Dancing With Myself" - originally by Billy Idol, lately performed on Glee:

Not stuck in my head, but thinking about all these "waking up" songs reminds me of this classic from my pre-teen years. I think it was my theme during all those growth spurts...except for the part where I might get fired. Since I didn't actually work.

"Sleep" - Riley Armstrong

Mondays Mean More: Poetry

Poetry and I have a bit of a love/hate relationship. Sometimes, I read poems that leave me making that strangely perplexed face. Even my own attempts at writing poetry are hit and miss. Am I brilliant or brutal?

I don't know.

But I do know that there are moments when poetry is exceedingly beautiful. Like this excerpt from Matthew Arnold'sThe Hymn of Empedocles:

Is it so small a thing
To have enjoy'd the sun,
To have lived light in the spring,
To have loved, to have thought, to have done;
To have advanced true friends, and beat down baffling foes;

That we must feign a bliss
Of doubtful future date,
And while we dream on this
Lose all our present state,
And relegate to worlds yet distant our repose?

Not much, I know, you prize
What pleasures may be had,
Who look on life with eyes
Estranged, like mine, and sad:
And yet the village churl feels the truth more than you;

Wednesday's Word: In Flanders Fields

In grade school, once a year we had to memorize a poem and recite it for the whole class. Up until grade 5, at which point we had to start writing speeches. I detested public speaking, and have few memories of this part of my education.

I do, however, remember that I chose to memorize In Flanders Fields one year. I can still recall it from memory:

In Flanders Fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses row on row
That mark our graves, but in the sky
The lark, still bravely singing, flies -
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead.
Short days ago, we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow.
Loved and were loved.
But now we lie in Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe!
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep
Though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields

(I verified that - and turns out I forget the first line of the last stanza...)

It's one of those once-a-year poems, but that didn't phase me when I was ei…

Two'sday: Liberrary

I love the library. Today, I am returning two books (via my roommate, so I don't actually have to leave the house).

Book #1: Free Range Chickens. A humourous collection of assorted conversations and random untrue experiences from an SNL writer who looks about 12 in his jacket photo. He is actually 25. This is his second book. He is funny and has a prestigious comedy job. I don't envy him though, because I don't know if he is really happy with it all. But I did laugh at his book.

Book #2: Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. One book combining all my favourite topics - WWII, literature, the UK, letter-writing and romance. What can I say? A lighthearted and fully enjoyable read. The classic book-within-a-book mechanism makes so many things possible...

Mondays Mean More: Body Confidence

Today at the gym, I got a little weepy watching How to Look Good Naked.

For those of you who don't know the show, a fabulously tall and warm-hearted Gok takes British women of all shapes and sizes who dislike their appearances, gives them a makeover and helps them learn to love their bodies. A big part of the process during each episode is a nude (but tasteful) photo shoot, and the opportunity to model (and potentially bare all) in front of hundreds of people.

Today's episode (the first of the current season) featured a 62 year-old and her 40 year-old daughter. It talked about the reality of teenage girls in Britain and their dissatisfaction with their bodies. Things we inherit in part from our parents, absorb from the media, and encourage in our peers.

As I'm running on the treadmill, watching these women learn to actually look at their bodies, I realize again how widespread this pandemic is.

This summer, I liked the way my clothes looked on me. I liked everything in my clo…

Sundays are Fundays: Skype Conversations

If there is one thing that I never have to worry about on the weekend, it is this: will I have anyone to hang out with? Anything to do?

The answer is always yes. I have a great group of friends both near and far, and seemingly-unending opportunities for coffee dates, conversations, and other fun times. Like this conversation with a (non-white, male) friend.

(Disclaimer: this may open up some concerns regarding racist tendencies among my friends. If this conversation is bothersome to you, I'm happy to discuss.)

Friend: so Beth, how white would you consider yourself to beand how white are you really

Beth: uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh?what's the scale? how do i measure?

Friend: its an open question, you can choose to answer both questions however you feel like

Beth: okay.
Beth: i would consider myself 90% white. but i'm really only 75% white.

Friend: realllllllyy. wow.

Beth: see, i don't know what your scale is like. so that might mean something different to you than it does to me.

Friend: i a…

Bonus Round: Wedding Photography

watermark 498
Originally uploaded by bethaf. Well, it's Saturday night, and what else do I have to do but edit photos? A few weekends ago, I was assistant photographer for a real live wedding. Not scary at all.

My brilliantly talented friend Becca was the main photographer. And although I think we both have a long list of things to improve for next time (if such a thing should happen), we have managed to produce some truly lovely photos.

We're still playing around with what our watermark/name will be, and I must say our last names fit together perfectly for this sort of artistic endeavour...

Saturday Sing Along: New York

New York is very popular in music. When I start with "New York" in my mind, this is the playlist that evolves. (what can I say - my musical tastes are diverse?)

warning - some videos may be offensive to some viewers.

"White Collar Boy" - Belle and Sebastian (they also sing "Piazza, New York Catcher" but I could only find covers of it on Youtube)

"New York, New York" - Frank Sinatra & Gene Kelly (see also a song with the same title by Ryan Adams)

"New York" - U2

"Empire State of Mind (in New York)" - Jay Z & Alicia Keys

"American Boy" - Estelle feat. Kanye

Friday Vari-e-tay: The Sea

This is my extensive list of "Things I Know About the Sea."
It is large.It is salty.It is too cold to swim in, at least in Canada.Fish live there.Seaweed grows there.Some places have coral. Sometimes coral gets diseases and people study them. I don't know why. Some places it is so deep that we haven't seen the bottom yet.Some places you can fish for crab and lobster. I have done this. I also jigged (jogged?) for cod.
There are dolphins and sharks in the sea.Whales are mammals. Sea cucumbers are animals! I have touched them.There are both freshwater and saltwater otters.
Some birds live off fish. They are called seabirds. Male seahorses carry the babies before they are born. The highest tides in the world are in Canada - at the Bay of Fundy. They can be up to 16.3 metres high. Canada has the longest coastline in the world. Three times as much rubbish, by weight, is dumped in the ocean than fish are caught. A group of jellyfish is called a "smack." Herrings sw…

Wednesday's Word: Courage

Back in August, work gave me a book called Courage: The Backbone of Leadership. It sat on my desk for a couple of months. I read the intro and thought, "meh."

Then I took it with me on a business trip and have been devouring it for the last week and a half. If you work with me, and were given a copy, please read it. I'd love to hear thoughts on the application within our context. If you don't work with me or weren't given a copy, you should also read it.

Some snippets:
He was teaching me to behave according to values and rules instead of in response to fear or need.

No matter who we are and what we do, we are seduced by avoidance.

Most [American HR experts] confirm that the vast majority of male executives don't cheat but are conflict-adverse...about 80 percent...most of them agree that American female executives are more courageous in approaching conflict but often lack the institutional authority to have the impact of their male counterparts.

Results are resource…

Sundays are Fundays

Technically, my Sunday started last night while at a party that was going strong. I was glad of the changing clocks and the chance to recover at least one lost hour of sleep. And for the record, I really can rock the 80s formal wear.

November started with a beautifully sunny day:
I woke up earlier than planned with plenty of time to make it to church.
Sat next to a man with beautiful eyes.
Played with a baby in the nursery.
Ate Japanese food, and liked it.
Skipped the gym.
Hung out with my little (bigger) brother and a handful of other guys.
Was startled when an older gentleman fell at the grocery store (but was relieved when he was well taken care of.)
Enabled the purchase of far too much Halloween candy.
Played Wii.
Played my first ever game of disc golf.
Refused to take a handicap at the game.
Spent an hour singing the chorus from Biz Markie's hit song, which is still in my head. Get out of my head, Biz Markie!!!
Lost my first ever game of disc golf. But with my pride intact.
Scrounged leftov…