November 30, 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 it boring.
We are helpless.
We skip over it.
We try to short-circuit it.
We devalue it.

And yet, without it, so many things in life would be less valuable, less meaningful. It's the means to many ends. That's really all I have to say, because that's all I've figured out.

How do I wait well?
What is the line between passivity and healthy waiting?
What does my waiting accomplish?

Oh, there are so many thoughts!

(Anyone who is a better, wiser waiter out there?)

November 29, 2009

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.

November 28, 2009

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.
What Are You Doing New Year's Eve

And this song, which threatens me with tears.
Carol of the Bells

Every time I listen, I get shivers. So let's listen to another version.

And now I give in. Roll the credits on the Christmas playlist - I am ready to go!

November 27, 2009

Friday Vari-e-tay: Things That Should Be Mulled

1. Wine. It makes me think of being classy. Living in the 1800's. And It's A Wonderful Life.

2. Hot Apple Cider. My favourite Christmas drink.

3. Thoughts. I have a lot of them. A LOT of them. (I googled "mulling it over" and came across this photographer's website)

4. Purchases. I am contemplating online purchases from these three sites.

November 25, 2009

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 facts...With all those possible uses in mind, you really don’t feel comfortable throwing anything away. So you keep acquiring and compiling and filing stuff away. It’s interesting. It keeps your mind fresh. And perhaps one day some of it will prove valuable."

2. Strategic

"The Strategic theme enables you to sort through the clutter and find the best route. It is not a skill that can be taught. It is a distinct way of thinking, a special perspective on the world at large. This perspective allows you to see patterns where others simply see complexity. Mindful of these patterns, you play out alternative scenarios, always asking, “What if this happened? Okay, well what if this happened?” This recurring question helps you see around the next corner. There you can evaluate accurately the potential obstacles. Guided by where you see each path leading, you start to make selections."

3. Connectedness

"Things happen for a reason. You are sure of it. You are sure of it because in your soul you know that we are all connected. Yes, we are individuals, responsible for our own judgments and in possession of our own free will, but nonetheless we are part of something larger...You are considerate, caring, and accepting. Certain of the unity of humankind, you are a bridge builder for people of different cultures. Sensitive to the invisible hand, you can give others comfort that there is a purpose beyond our humdrum lives."

4. Restorative

"You love to solve problems. Whereas some are dismayed when they encounter yet another breakdown, you can be energized by it. You enjoy the challenge of analyzing the symptoms, identifying what is wrong, and finding the solution. You may prefer practical problems or conceptual ones or personal ones..."

5. Ideation

"You are fascinated by ideas. What is an idea? An idea is a concept, the best explanation of the most events. You are delighted when you discover beneath the complex surface an elegantly simple concept to explain why things are the way they are. An idea is a connection. Yours is the kind of mind that is always looking for connections, and so you are intrigued when seemingly disparate phenomena can be linked by an obscure connection...For all these reasons you derive a jolt of energy whenever a new idea occurs to you. Others may label you creative or original or conceptual or even smart. Perhaps you are all of these. Who can be sure? What you are sure of is that ideas are thrilling. And on most days this is enough."

I find this all fascinating (Ideation much?) but I haven't yet figured out the application of these facts. In theory, they're meant to affect how I work as opposed to what I do. I see their potential to influence both. And every other aspect of my life.


November 24, 2009

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.

November 23, 2009

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. It would be a matter of careful consideration, patience, and weighing the pros and cons. Instead of the winner being the conquerer of all, the winner would be the person with the most friendly relations.

Come to think of it, this would make a great board game. I should pitch this idea to someone. Right after I finish pitching my best-ever reality TV show idea.)

Anyway, the point that I'm trying to get to is that I'm not a huge risk taker. And I've been thinking about this a lot, especially since I read the book Courage. This quote has been haunting me:
Courage doesn't depend on practical outcomes, risk versus gains analysis, or collateral impact on others - that's pragmatism. Pragmatism is the application of practicality, utility and consequences to decision making. Courage is addressing wrongs in the face of fear, regardless of consequences, of risk to self, or of potential practical gains.
I'm a pragmatist. And while pragmatism is not wrong (in fact, I think it's often wise), pragmatism falls short. It means that I take the tiny but guaranteed "successes" over massive but uncertain gains. Every time.

I fear failure and hold back in order to avoid it. Or at least, to try avoiding it. It seems to find me anyway. But I don't want to live my life this way. I want to do the things that I believe are best (it's not always a matter of right/wrong) even when I don't know if I'll succeed. I want to be willing to make mistakes. I want to stand up for what I think is right even if it gets me nowhere.

So where do I start? How do I bring a healthy dose of risk into my life? How do I move towards courage?

November 20, 2009

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

November 18, 2009

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 surprised. I had to skim. I was always one step outside the story. And that disappointed me.

So. I would recommend this book for a good spiritual discussion. I wouldn't recommend it for a good, mesmerizing read.

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.

November 15, 2009

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 cross
You should know now that I feel the loss

I hurt too, I hurt too

Even though you are drowning in valley’s of echoes
I believe there is peace in those hills up ahead
You will climb ‘til you find places you’ll never let go
And I will also be here praying just like I said

I hurt too, I hurt too

November 14, 2009

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

November 13, 2009

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's The 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;

Who 's loth to leave this life
Which to him little yields:
His hard-task'd sunburnt wife,
His often-labour'd fields;
The boors with whom he talk'd, the country spots he knew.

But thou, because thou hear'st
Men scoff at Heaven and Fate;
Because the gods thou fear'st
Fail to make blest thy state,
Tremblest, and wilt not dare to trust the joys there are.

I say, Fear not! life still
Leaves human effort scope.
But, since life teems with ill,
Nurse no extravagant hope.
Because thou must not dream, thou need'st not then despair.

November 11, 2009

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 eight(ish). And it doesn't phase me now when I see it on our money either. Anyone know which bill it's on? Because Remembrance Day is one of the most important holidays of the year to me...I won't rave endlessly about my fabulous Grampie today. Although you should all read his story here.

I have been thinking about the reality of war in our current day and age, and I think that it is too easy for me to treat Remembrance Day as merely a salute to the past. But let's be honest. There are people from my species, my country, my city, my family who are fighting with other family members, sons and daughters who grew up in a town, in a country, in someone else's home. Who live through things that no one should have to experience.

Sometimes, we remember the past and forget the present. Let's not be like that.

November 10, 2009

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...

November 9, 2009

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 closet, for a change. The thought crossed my mind that I must have lost some weight. So I weighed myself, which I hadn't done in awhile. I hadn't lost any weight. I was perplexed.

Then it hit me. My body isn't changing. But my perception of it is.

I joined the gym in August because I knew I would be tempted to inactivity this winter. Because I want to be healthy. Because I want to prevent health problems later on in life. Because I want to be happy with myself and my body. Because, if I'm honest, I hoped I'd lose a little weight.

"Body confidence" is not something I've had much of in my life. But for the first time in my life, I like myself more than I dislike myself. And I want others to like themselves. I want my family, my housemates, my friends to like themselves. I want the next generation of girls to grow up hearing that they are beautiful. That they don't have to be thinner, taller, have bigger boobs or a smaller butt. I want to see real women in the media.

I am tired of comparing and competing. I am tired of fighting with myself to not look at the other, skinnier women, the women with diamonds, the women with babies, the women in powersuits and wonder, Maybe if I looked more like that...

I'm not always in that headspace. Most of the time, my trips to the gym really are about being healthy. I don't do classes, because it's harder to compete and compare when it's just me on a machine. I love the feeling of being active. I like my clothes and how I look far more regularly than when I was a student. My body confidence is growing. I want it to last. And I have hope that it's possible.

November 8, 2009

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 be and 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 always thought it would be like 50%, 85%. i guess the first thing is that i thought your numbers would be flipped, that you would consider yourself less white than you actually are, but you consider yourself more white than you actually are
. the numbers are arbitrary, i dont care about the numbers

Beth: ah.

Friend: so, your numbers, what they tell me is that you consider yourself really white, but in reality you arent as white as you think you are
. do you like being more white than you think you are? or less white than you think you are

Beth: ha ha. i think that this falls apart. because i am the one who has said i'm more white than i think i am. which is impossible.

Friend: yea... seriously, its "interesting" that you picked numbers that looked like that. did you want to change it then?

Beth: yup. i have no idea.

Friend: what...?
beth, seriously. no means that you have zero perception of yourself. but i think that you are smart, and introsepctive

Beth: i am. well, introspective at least ;) it's just a weird thing to ask. because you're asking for my opinion on how white i am, and then how white i _really_ am. how could they be different numbers?

Friend: well, actually, what ends up happening is that the person answers the first question as to how white do they desire to be and then they give a bit more of an "accurate" value to the second question
. as in, i would like to think that i am 50% white, but in reality i am 85% white

Beth: ah. but i know myself too well to have different numbers :)

Friend: ok, i can agree with that
. so, what would your numbers be

Beth: 90. but i wish i was at a 75

Friend: hmmm so, why do you choose 90

Beth: because i'm white. i grew up white...a couple asian kids in my classes...i don't think i ever ate authentic ethnic food until i was in university.

Friend: so, in what ways could you be 75% white

Beth: i like ethnic food. i've travelled internationally. i understand some things around foreign cultures. i listen to non-american music.

Friend: oh sorry, i dont think i asked that question very well. i guess what im asking is, if you want to be less white than what you are right now, what else would you want to do to drop from 90 to 75, or what more rather

Beth: oh. well, i live with a non-white person, and two more people who lived in foreign countries. that helps. so maybe if i marry a non-white man? (is that what you're getting at? is this all an elaborate ploy to hit on me!??!?)

Friend: could you marry a non-white man?? lol, well, ill be honest, i was talking with Friend #2 and he said something about how you are reallllly white. which i didnt really believe off-hand but i like Friend #2 and respect him, and figured, he probably is right, i should just ask beth how white she really is. which is why we are having this conversation

Beth: you didn't ask him why he thinks i'm really white?

Friend: the pinnacle of my conversation with Friend #2 was that you are so white, that he couldnt see you in a relationship with a non-white person. yea, i didnt bother asking him, because we were actually talking about something else, and this topic sort of happened

Bizarre. So today I texted Friend #2. "I heard you think I'm too white to date any other ethnicity."

He responded. "Uhhh. Yeah. I'm sure he didn't tell you the context of the convo. I wouldn't say you're too white. I say you're too Canadian to date an immigrant."

Our conversation transitioned to Skype:

Friend #2: I think you can marry anyone you want. As long as that person is not an immigrant

Beth: well, i'm a) glad to have your permission and b) still unclear as to why you think it wouldn't work.

Friend #2: I would say that you are pretty white Canadian and since you're an independent woman, it would be difficult for you to marry someone not from Canada who has some balls. And I don't think you would marry a ballless man

Beth: well, i would prefer a husband with working anatomy. and what you're saying is that you think immigrants are wimps?

Friend #2 I just think you probably wouldn't date a guy with a mommy complex, and there would be some big issues if the guy didn't value your (independence) I think it's easier for a white guy to marry a fob than than for a white girl. Anyone, not just you. Anyways, don't's not a judgement call on you. It's just a random (Friend #1) conversation

Moral of the story: my non-white male friends feel more strongly that I wouldn't do well with a non-white, non-Western man than I do. And they talk(ed) about this.

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...

November 7, 2009

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

November 6, 2009

Friday Vari-e-tay: The Sea

This is my extensive list of "Things I Know About the Sea."
  1. It is large.
  2. It is salty.
  3. It is too cold to swim in, at least in Canada.
  4. Fish live there.
  5. Seaweed grows there.
  6. Some places have coral. Sometimes coral gets diseases and people study them. I don't know why.
  7. Some places it is so deep that we haven't seen the bottom yet.
  8. Some places you can fish for crab and lobster. I have done this. I also jigged (jogged?) for cod.
  9. There are dolphins and sharks in the sea.
  10. Whales are mammals.
  11. Sea cucumbers are animals! I have touched them.
  12. There are both freshwater and saltwater otters.
  13. Some birds live off fish. They are called seabirds.
  14. Male seahorses carry the babies before they are born.
  15. The highest tides in the world are in Canada - at the Bay of Fundy. They can be up to 16.3 metres high.
  16. Canada has the longest coastline in the world.
  17. Three times as much rubbish, by weight, is dumped in the ocean than fish are caught.
  18. A group of jellyfish is called a "smack."
  19. Herrings swim in "sieges."
  20. Guillemots run in "bazaars." (for the record, Guillaumes and Guillemots are very different from one another - one is a good-looking French man, and the other is a seabird of the Charadriiformes order. Although they do come from the same root word.)*

I have only seen this movie once. But I'm pretty sure it's the most influential film on children's understanding of the ocean.

*for the record, I stole facts 15 through 20 from
my friend Alasdair. I did, however, look up all by myself the extra facts about guillemots being of the order Charadriiformes and that they share a root with the name Guillaume.

November 4, 2009

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 resources passed through relationships.

When we swallow reality and fake being nice, we don't make things better. We make people sick, starting with ourselves.

Everyone needs regular, routine positive feedback.

We use statements to give encouragement and recognition...we use questions to discuss challenges and problems.

Leadership is about people and inspiring people. Management is organizations and controlling institutional functions.

Leaders respect and appreciate all, reward many, and fire a few.

It's wrong to adopt fear and avoidance as life principles. It's like using our brains and experience to build marble shrines to cowardice...Here we're asked to do what appears to be good and assured that doing it is OK if we make a habit of it.

Admirable or not, a core value is a nonnegotiable practice that is most obvious in times of stress...Institutional core values reflect the personal core values of the organization's leadership.

Low core values are common habits. Middle core values are visible best business practices. There are but three high core values: Integrity. Courage. Character.

The opposite of courage isn't fear; fear is simply the internal condition that courage overcomes. The opposite of courage is indifference.

Formal ethical codes can be purely theoretical. This means that informal, internal ethical codes have far more impact on actual behaviour.

and my personal favourite:

Courage doesn't depend on practical outcomes, risk versus gains analysis, or collateral impact on others - that's pragmatism. Pragmatism is the application of practicality, utility and consequences to decision making. Courage is addressing wrongs in the face of fear, regardless of consequences, of risk to self, or of potential practical gains.

Two'sday: New Music

Newly added to my library:

Album #1 - Iron and Wine's Around the Well
Album #2 - Florence + the Machine's Lungs

So excited for them both. Favourites so far are "The Drumming Song" and "Such Great Heights."

November 3, 2009

Two'sday: Sara Groves

from Conversation, c. 2000.

Painting Pictures of Egypt

What I Thought I Wanted (fan vid - just listen)

November 2, 2009

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 leftovers from the fridge.
Babysat. Put a baby to bed and watched TV. Tried not to fall asleep.
Went to bed.