Kill ’em with Kindness

Have you ever had one of those days where simply everything seems to go wrong? Maybe you get a bad grade back, have a fight with a friend, or you’re simply stressed, tired and overwhelmed. It’s easy to feel alone in those times. In fact, I don’t know about you but sometimes when I am having one of those days, I intentionally isolate myself , which is so not a healthy way of handling stress. I do it because I don’t want to bother other’s with my problems however we ALL need people in our lives who are willing to be our community, even when we think we’d rather just do it on our own.

I’ve written before about how much I value community and my desire to have people in my life who truly know me . However, today I want to talk about how you can be an encourager and a bright spot in someone’s day, even if you’re not a close friend. See there is one community we are all a part of; even with nothing else in common, we are all human beings. We all need to feel valued, noticed and appreciated. As members of the the human race, each of us are involved, inherently, in community with each other. We share this space and sometimes we cross paths with each other at just the right time.  You never know who around you may be having “one of those days” and just need someone, anyone, to step up and be a source of kindness and community.

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Random acts of kindness.

We’ve all heard this one before and yet we really don’t practice it as much as we should. In the past week, I’ve been really inspired by those around me to do more out of pure generosity and kindness. When my mom was here visiting last week she paid for the meal of a lady sitting near us by herself. No real reason, Mom was simply doing something to make a stranger smile (my mom inspires me all the time btw, she’s one of the kindest people I know). This week I came home after a super long day to a note and bag of treats from a couple of residence. Last night my co-worker Marley put a chocolate outside all the CA’s doors with a characteristic about us that she admires. Thank you Marley. Today I watched a university student sit and have coffee with a man who had been panhandling outside the Starbucks. I really admired her genuine interest in his life and the time and attention she put into their conversation. All around us each and everyday are opportunities to step outside of ourselves and really see the people we occupy space with. Candies, coffees and conversations are small moments that pass but the thought behind them is what makes a difference. Kindness is a simple way to remind people that they are not alone.

Recognize humanity. 

Treat people like people. I mean this in two ways. Firstly, a couple of weeks ago I had a conversation with a man named George while I was waiting for a bus. He was clearly intoxicated and seemed to have a mental illness. I watched him approach several people on the street to ask them where to find something and they literally pretended not to see him and kept walking. I’m not going to lie, sometimes the people I see downtown Ottawa make me nervous but this time I was determined to do what I know we should all do: treat him like a person. We ended up having a lovely conversation and you know what he said to me? “I’ve been here for 3 days and you’re the first person in Ottawa to be nice to me”. WAKE UP CITY. Come on! How many of us live here? How many of us walked past George in those three days? How many other “Georges” do I walk past everyday? This wasn’t an act of kindness on my part, it was simply seeing him for who he is: a man who I believe is loved and cherished by God and therefore should be shown love by me.

On the other hand: see humanity in those who don’t like to show weakness. Sometimes all your stressed out friend needs to hear is that they don’t have to have it all together. Don’t make people into superheroes. As weird as it might sound, I sometimes need people to remind me that it’s OKAY to be human, to have bad days and to fail at things. We live in a society that teaches us to act like we are perfect and ignore those who are not. Instead, let’s all see each other as flawed people and love anyway.

Lift people up; be an encourager

I want to introduce you all quickly to a friend of mine. This is Lila. I’m pretty sure her default setting is laughter and aside from being absolutely stunning, she is also one of the most joyful people I have ever been lucky enough to meet; she has a heart that truly echoes the Lord’s. I don’t see her very often and yet on an almost daily basis I am blessed by her.                             14705703_10207243238827022_5351751920915094075_nThat’s because Lila takes every opportunity she gets to lift people up on social media. She posts inspiring messages on Facebook in case someone is having a bad day and writes beautiful quotes on Instagram. Here, I’ll let this speak for itself:

“Happy Monday Kings and Queens!
Just a quick positive reminder of the day; You matter. You make the world a more beautiful place just by being in it. You are lovely in all ways. You are loved by the Creator of weeping willow trees and the stars in the sky. You are incredible.
NEVER forget this. I want to be a constant reminder to people that they matter. It doesn’t matter where you are at, where you have been, or even where you are going.. You matter and I want to make sure you do not forget it. Enjoy today beautiful humans– there is SO much out there for you to explore and enjoy. Praying for y’all 🌻☀️🌸” – Lila

How encouraging is that?? This is one of many quotes I could have chosen; notes and reminders like these often pop up on my  feed from this lovely gal. She knows how to love with her words, both in general messages like this and by publicly acknowledging her friend’s strengths and gifts (p.s. she deserves a huge shoutouts too). You don’t have to be all over social media but you SHOULD make a habit of speaking life and blessings over people. Tell your friends what you love about them. Tell people that you appreciate them. Remind people that they are loved.

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Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. Treat people with kindness. Show love. Be generous with your time. See the humanity in another person and step into community with them, even for a moment. It could make all the difference in their day.

And sometimes, a hug doesn’t hurt either.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. – Colossians 3:12

Have a great night my lovely friends. Until next time, Sam.

P.s. I always love when bloggers write what they were listening to while they wrote. I’ve had an acoustic version of the hymn Come Thou Fount and Rend Collective’s campfire version of Oceans on repeat this evening!

Anticipating Greatness

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September, the season of endings and of beginnings. An exciting time, a nerve-wracking time, a new adventure time. It’s back to school, it’s the last of warm days and it’s beautiful and sad all wrapped up in one. It’s bike rides and trips to the Farmer’s Market and hugging friends you haven’t seen in a while, it’s saying goodbye to summer and it’s printing syllabi and updating your calendar. It’s when we look out over the school year to come, a fresh slate of tests not yet written and challenges not yet faced. What are you expecting this year? Are you apprehensive of what’s to come? I know I was.

This morning I woke up to an email from Blackboard, my university’s “virtual campus”; it was a notification that one of my economics professors had posted the syllabus for the course. As ridiculous as it might sound, my heart literally started racing and I was so nervous to open the file. Economics was my worst class last year and I am so anxious about going back to it this year, especially with two courses in the same semester, one of them in French.

This is just one example of the apprehension I’ve been feeling about second year. For me, summer has been over for almost 3 weeks, as soon as I left camp and came back to Ottawa for Community Advisor training. This year, I’ll be living in residence, watching over first year students and hopefully helping them to have a safe, fun and successful first year. That is an added responsibility that I need to account and make time for! I’m super excited about it but still! Tomorrow is the first day back at classes and I am definitely feeling nervous about all the work that is about to rain down on me and consume my life; but it will only consume me if I let it.

On Sunday I was in church and the woman leading worship said something that really stuck with me. It was about the difference between apprehension and anticipation. I looked up the definition of the two (as I often do) in order to make sure I clearly knew the difference.

Apprehension – anxiety or fear that something unpleasant will happen

Anticipation – the act of expecting or looking ahead to something with pleasure. 

It was one of those moments that I was caught off guard by the realization that this was God speaking clearly and directly to ME. I hadn’t even noticed the negative attitude I had been having towards the coming year. I was hiding my anxiety with “cautiousness” and “being realistic”. Neither of those are bad things but I was using them as reasons to not allow myself to be excited about year coming up. I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty optimistic, glass half full type of person, so it’s not normal for me to be like that. In fact, one of my favourite verses in high school was 2nd Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-decipline.” I loved it so much that I had it written out and taped on my wall but I think that I’ve still somehow forgotten!

I’m not meant to fear the future. I’m not meant to live expecting things to go badly. God has created this incredible world and put us in it, to live and learn and explore. So this morning I opened the email, read over the syllabus, and will go to the class tomorrow anticipating that it will go well, that I’ll learn something interesting. Fear is normal; letting it consume your life is not. This fall, I’m trying to re-learn how to surrender my apprehension to God and let him replace it with anticipation. The future is full of possibilities. Yes, some of those possibilities include hardship or difficulty or heartbreak. But they are just that, possibilities. This fall, I’m choosing to look forward with anticipation, expecting not just goodness, but greatness. 

Today, I went adventuring with a friend. We rode bikes along the canal, lined with trees while the sun shined brightly. We sat and had coffee, we walked through our favourite park and we sat at a lookout over the city. It was fun and warm and carefree. It was a great day. There are many more great days to come: deep chats in my new dorm room, friendships with my residents, (even if sometimes I have to break up their beer pong games), adventures through the beautiful city I get to call home, learning about the world and the people God created and hopefully lots and lots of laughter. Yes, school is going to be a lot of work, and yes, I’m going to have to learn to manage my time and schedule to balance school, work, life and self-care. But that’s okay. Because those are all exciting things that God has blessed me with. 

Anticipation – to expect or look ahead with great pleasure. 

Life is exciting if you let it be. So to all my friends going to back to school tomorrow, or sometime this week. Let’s be anticipatory. Let’s expect GREAT things from this school year. Let’s have good attitudes and a willingness to learn. We are blessed for the opportunity to live and learn in Canada. Let’s act like it. Let’s act like we have sprits of power, love and self-dicipline.

That’s all I got for now. I’m surprised how nervous (damn, there’s that word again eh?) I am about hitting “publish” on this post. Vulnerability here folks. All the more reason to do it I guess. Hopefully someone out there in the big world of cyberspace gets something out of my silly realizations. God is always teaching me, even if I’m sometimes an inattentive student. So, good luck with September my friends. Let’s make it a great one

-Until next time, Sam ❤

P.s. Here are some pictures of my last couple weeks settling into my new job/home. They do make me more excited for all that is to come!!

 

Leader-what?

Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t – Bill Nye 

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What does it mean to be a leader? My job this summer is to take this question, sift through my own experiences and try to teach 15 year old kids what it means. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

  1. A leader believes in their own abilities
  2. A leader know their weaknesses and works towards improvement
  3. A leader knows when to step back, watch and listen
  4. A leader knows how to gain respect without having to raise their voice
  5. A leader can come in all shapes, sizes, ages, genders, and personality types.
  6. A leader is respectful, responsible, inclusive, caring and honest
  7. A leader overcomes challenges
  8. A leader doesn’t just show the way, they go the way and lead by example
  9. A leader has a sense of humor and is able to laugh at themselves
  10. A leader is only as good as their attitude and commitment to their team

It’s pretty late at night and I’m just pondering the things I’ve learned this summer so far. I think I’ve learned a lot more than I’ve taught. Thanks, chillens.

Leadership is a funny thing. It is often made to look effortless by the people who do it well. And yet, it’s freaking hard guys. It’s hard to have that much responsibility, whether you are leading a song at campfire or leading a canoe trip. Anytime you are in charge, there is pressure there.

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I guess I’m just impressed. I’m impressed by my kids, both last month and this one. I’m proud of last months kids; of how much they learned, of how they came together as a team and of how they grew as individuals. Even more so, I’m impressed by the August kids. They have only been here for 5 days and I can already see them thriving. They take initiative to help clean the dining hall. They encourage each other to try new things. They smile a lot. They have positive attitudes (even if they roll their eyes at my uncoolness). They help younger campers and volunteer to sing at campfire and set high goals to push themselves to be better.

lshipWho am I to teach them?

I’ve gone through this program. I’ve had leadership roles, I’ve been a “leader” many times. Yet, I’m still always winging it. I’m still learning everyday through trial and error. I guess that would be:

11. A leader never stops learning. They never stop setting goals for themselves and aiming to be better people.

12. A leader inspires others to want to be better too. That’s what my kids have done. 

They’ve made me want to be a better leader.  I still have a long way to go.

Until then, I guess I just keep doing my best and learning from everyone I can. From my co’s who amaze me everyday by being the incredible people they are, from the kids who have left me and changed my life, from the kids who are here now and keeping me on my toes day by day, surprising me with their maturity and insight. I can’t imagine a more rewarding job. Thank you leadership…I can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer has in store.  Please, teach me everything you can in these next few weeks. I always grow the most on Kitchi sands.

And maybe, just maybe, I’m teaching them something too.

Until next time,

-Sam

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My Compass Points North

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“Be aware that this area is like ‘Algonquin on steroids’: some lakes are bigger, the portages are tougher and the hills rockier” – The Adventure Map, Temagami 2

About 2 weeks ago, I led my very first canoe trip. It was one of the most intimidating, most exhausting, most inspiring, most challenging and most rewarding things that I have ever done. In about 2 weeks, I’ll be doing the same thing all over again with another group of 15 year old kids. Just the thought of it gives me butterflies….except this time they are butterflies of excitement rather than the nervousness I felt this time last month.

As most of you know, I just did my tripper training in May of this year. I didn’t even get to warm up and lead a trip in the areas around camp that I am familiar with. Instead, I jumped right into a 5 day adventure in Temagami on a rather remote route that I had only paddled once, four years earlier. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. I’m using my journal (which came with me on trip) to help me with the details of this post and looking at the ones leading up to the trip, I wrote almost everyday about my fears before our departure. I think that’s normal though. I was about to have the lives on 18 people in my hands. I was the one calling the shots. I was responsible. And holy hell, I was nervous about it. All I could do was pray for courage, patience and sound judgement.

I’m not going to give you all a play by play of our route because lets be real, you probably don’t care. I am going to try to give you all an insight into my feelings on the trip, as well as the hardest and best moments. Just for some background, I was leading a trip that consisted of myself, my co-faciliatator Liam and 16 of our leadership participants who are 14 and 15 years old. The trip was a loop in the southern part of Temagami that totalled 90km and included 7 portages of varying lengths. Temagami itself is incredibly beautiful…clear blue waters, wind swept old growth pine forests, tall rock faces, small and pristine portage in only lakes. It is the true north and a stunning definition of Canadian wilderness.

Day one was fairly uneventful. We made it to our site in early afternoon and had a lot of fun hanging out, swimming, exploring and getting to know each other (although dinner was a disappointing fail). One of the coolest things about trip is the bonding that happens. Without any outside distractions, you get to know the people you are with very well. Liam and I quickly realized how awesome our trip group was – wonderfully hilarious and so much fun to be with. I can’t brag about my kids enough.

Looking at our map, we knew that day 2 was going to be our longest day on the water so we got to bed early. Sure enough, it dawned a beautiful day but I was really nervous about navigation. Relying solely on a map and compass versus knowing the area like I do around Kitchi was super intimidating. Not to mention, everything looks the same!! The trees, the water, the islands. Looking at the map and then looking up and trying to figure out which little piece of land you are looking at is pretty difficult. Lucky for us, we passed lots of friendly cottagers and between taking bearings, I got into the habit of calling out “Which island are you?” every once in a while to pinpoint where we were on the map. We were never lost but it was a nice way to assure myself we were on the right track.

But day 2 was also my lowest point as a tripper. We were stopped for lunch after our first real portage. It was only about 75m and took us over 40 minutes to accomplish because the kids just didn’t quite get what portaging was all about. The wind was picking up and we were about to head out into the stretch of what I knew was going to be most difficult to navigate. The kids were already complaining about being tired. I was overwhelmed by the weight of it all and truly thought I might cry. Liam looked at me and asked what I wanted to do; I needed to make a call. I knew we had to keep going, and more importantly, I knew that I had to put on a brave face for my team. So that’s what we did. I took a bearing, we packed up the canoes and off we went. That day we were on that water for 11 hours, portaging a total of 5 times and completing a huge chunk of the trip. It was long, it was hard and I was so, so tired. Yet that night I was so proud of myself. We were safe and we had accomplished our goal. I knew then that I could do this.

The next day was the “Death March”. A very long, hilly and rocky portage that is notorious for making L1 trip hell. I don’t want to bore you with the details but it was another long and challenging day. The highlight however was meeting up with the other half of the group and spending the night at a campsite together. We swam at a beach all together with crazy waves – it felt more like we were in the Mediterranean than the Canadian North. Those carefree moments laughing and playing with the kids, all together and relaxed after a couple hard days is something I’m going to remember for the rest of my life. That’s the point after all. That’s why we do this trip. It’s to form connections and make lasting memories. That’s what it’s all about.

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In the past, I don’t think I ever really understood how many things a trip leader has to be thinking about at once…until I was actually doing it. One of the kids made a comment at the site one night that I was making leading look effortless. I mention that only because I remember thinking the same thing about my tripper when I was in L1 and it is only now that I realize just how many things she was juggling at once! From checking the map and compass, to watching the weather and assessing risks, making sure everyone is feeling well, drinking water etc, setting up camp, coordinating food, communicating with camp and still acting like a regular human being who interacts with everyone on the trip…Liam and I both were surprised by how constantly focused and busy we were.

I love being out on the water. I love laughing with kids and cooking outside and the feeling at the end of a portage when your whole body hurts and you have a huge sense of accomplishment. I’m proud. And just to put it out there, it’s in huge part thanks to the amazing instructor I had; more than once i found myself repeating to the kids something he had told me on trip. Marty, if you’re reading this, thank you.

I can’t wait to do the trip again with new dynamics and new adventures. Never stop challenging yourself friends, you can do things you never thought possible. Also, confidence is key; trust your own abilities.

Until next time,

-Sam

p.s. Shoutout to Liam MacLeod…there is no one else I’d have rather had with me on trip. Your humor and support kept me calm and you made me keep going when I was the most overwhelmed. I appreciate you a lot.

 

Can I ask you a question?

Have you ever been in love?

For the past year or so, I’ve been (somewhat awkwardly) asking this question to friends, family and strangers alike, in an attempt to gain perspective on something that has been fascinating and baffling humans for as long as we’ve existed. It’s a topic that has been pondered in mythology, become a cliché in movies and been dreamed of by many.

My follow up question is always some variation of “Did it change you, teach you something or give you a new perspective?” Although these may seem like super inappropriate questions to ask perfect strangers, I don’t think we should ever avoid talking about life and our experiences with it, the good, the bad, the confusing, and the awkward. In fact, this little survey of mine has led to some of the most honest and interesting conversations I’ve ever had. Some people panic when I ask the question, some people are very open and happy to talk about it, some people kind of look at me weird but still answer, others get philosophical on me. Still other times, people totally shut me down and that’s cool too if they don’t want to get personal.

So what’s my point? I guess I ask because I feel like love is something that can never be clearly defined. It’s perceived by each of us differently. Personally, I know for a fact that I have experienced love but have never been “in” love. If I don’t have any “in” love experience to draw on and it doesn’t have a definition, my only way to learn more is by asking people. On the flip side, it’s not so much learning about love that is the purpose behind the question. What I’m really hoping for when I ask is to get a perspective on that person. Because love tends to be so personal, I feel like an individual’s thoughts about it can tell me so much about them. Sorry for being nosey friends, I just wanna get to know ya!

For real though, I wish more people went straight for the real questions. This habit arose out of pure desperation not to have the “What’s your name, major, home town, residence and favourite colour?” one more freaking time. Like, yes, cool, I’m glad that you’re from Toronto like every other person I’ve talked to today. Please, tell me something you’re passionate about or a person in your life that you really admire. Maybe it’s not “have you ever been in love” but I challenge you to ask a question this week that forces you to learn something real about a friend or a stranger. One of my other friends this week said that she likes to ask strangers on the bus what their favourite quote is and why. Sure you may never see that person again but hey, you made an effort to connect with another human!

THAT IS ALWAYS WORTH YOUR TIME.

Anyways, I’m not sure if this interests any of you, or if you just think I’m invasive and annoying but I’ve been learning a lot from asking the deep questions. Either way, I’m probably going to continue to talk about love with all. If you ever see me, let sit down and chat over coffee!

Love you all for taking time out of your day to listening to my ramblings. The adventure always continues.

Until next time, Sam

P.s. I’m living the island life at my camp for the summer so my blog appearances may be fairly sporadic for the next couple months. I’ll do my best though!

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Adventures in tripping – a little flippin’ never hurt!

If you fall into a river in the middle of May… get back up and do it again??

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Kitchi Tripping Crew ft Marty

That’s right, I was still smiling after 2 dunks in the aptly named Black River on a cloudy May 10th. Following my Switerland post titled “Today, I Fell Down A Mountain“, are we really surprised here? I was not, although I did feel bad for taking my bow paddler Lauren down with me…sorry gf! Honestly though, no one in my life is surprised at this point when absolutely ridiculous things happen to me. And if I’m honest, I kind of love it. I’m really grateful that God gives me so many funny little quirky stories to tell. It keeps me always on my toes, that’s for sure!!

Here’s the thing: those couple slips aside, I had an amazing experience at tripper training. I got a whack load of certifications, made new friends, and spent time with already good friends against the beautiful backdrop of Georgian Bay. I found it challenging to an extent; canoeing isn’t exactly my strongest camp skill. (I was always a sailor when I was a camper.) In fact, until this month, I’d never taken canoeing in any formal setting. Add that to the fact that most of the other participants on the trip had wayyyy more experience in tripping, you could say I was a bit intimidated. Here’s some things I learned from my week in the wilderness, as I worked towards becoming “Tripper Sam”!

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Outdoor Pursuits

Everyone starts somewhere. It was my first time taking any kind of formal canoeing and yet I was putting so much pressure on myself to be perfect, to  be as good as everyone around me. But I was just starting out! All the others had already spent the time perfecting their strokes; they had put the work in. I had to focus on the fact that I was learning every hour I spent in that canoe, rather than on trying to measure up.

On the flip side, don’t make excuses, make opportunities to get better. Although I didn’t have a lot of experience, I wasn’t going to let that stop me or intimidate me; I tried to not make excuses. Instead, I took every opportunity to get better. I sterned (steered) the boat every chance I got. I tried solo carrying canoes on almost every portage. I volunteered to do tasks around camp that I wasn’t really sure I could do, like helping to set up tarps. I learn best by doing, so it was a great opportunity for me! Also, I asked approximately a million questions. About everything. At all hours of the day. Hey, I was trying to glean all I could- from the incredibly knowledgable instructors we had and my peers!

On that note; everyone has something to offer. This is such an important part of a safe and fun trip but it’s also just important in life. In this case, I was pretty good at tying knots. Guess all that sailing paid off! It may seem like a little thing, but I was able to contribute to the group by helping to teach different knots. I also really enjoy cooking on trip so I helped out by being sous-chef for the leaders of the meal. Someone has to cut those peppers! Meanwhile, someone else had to go over navigation and compass use with me. And Lauren had to be patient with me on the river in the rapids. We all learned from each other in some way or another over the week and it was really cool to see everyone step up and take charge in their own way.

Confidence goes a long way! Don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself by trying something new. Laughing off mistakes is the best way to handle them…trust me, I would know by now. Sometimes, you just gotta fake it ’till you make it. A big part of our trip leading certification was being confident. As a leader, sometimes you have to make decisions and just be confident in your own skills. Trust yourself, trust your team, and be willing to make mistakes when the risk is low so that when you’re in a real situation, you’ve already applied your training and are therefore more likely to make the right judgement call.

When it comes down to it, sometimes you just have to get back on the horse…or back in the canoe! My two dips in the river happened on the very first day of a week and a half of training, during the 1st of 5 courses. It would have been pretty easy to get discouraged. I’m not going to lie, heading out to day 2 was rough. I was feeling so defeated from the day before and let me tell you, a 7am start, combined with spilling your breakfast all over yourself (in typical Sam fashion) and then putting on an already wet wetsuit is not exactly a morale booster. However, once I got out there I firmly decided that it was a new day, that I wasn’t going to let anything stand in my way of learning. Fear of failure only makes failure a more real possibility. And guess what? That Sunday on the river was probably the most fun I had in the entire week. Once we started to get a hang out it, running the rapids was SO SICK. Like for real, you should try it. In fact, I’m hoping to take my 2nd white water level at some point soon. What a change from day 1! Even our instructor (who is basically the most impressive canoeist I have ever seen in my life, Marty you are a Jedi) was impressed by my come-back. And I let THAT experience set the precedent for the rest of my week, not the first. Now, I am SO looking forward to being able to take my leadership to Temagami! Can you say dream come true??

Last summer, I started talking about wanting to be a tripper and my campers, as well as some of my fellow staff, started jokingly calling me “Tripper Sam”. While “tripper” may not be my actual job title this summer, and I still need to log some more experience before I get fully certified, I am proud to have kind of accomplished that goal for myself. Thanks to those friends for believing in me before I did! Also, shout-out to the trip team – you guys were so so fun to paddle with, laugh with and learn with.

 

By the way, thanks to any of ya’ll who read this funny little blog on the regular. It may be messy and silly and often irrelevant but it’s my little pet project and I so, so appreciate any of you who take time out of your day to read my thoughts…wow, what an honour!! Thank you dear friends for joining me on my (not so) grand adventures through everyday life.

Until next time, Sam

P.s. Guys. Can we just take in how incredibly beautiful the world God created is? Like holy cow. Several times I made a point to wander off so I could sit by myself and just breath in creation. Get out of the city friends, it’s so so worth it. You’ll never feel more alive than when you watch a sunset beside a set of rapids while eating a dinner that was cooked over the fire.

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RIP Sandy Grey Falls –  p.c. Grant B.

 

 

Chatter…

The rush of adrenaline, the last minute talking yourself into it, the butterflies and the potential beauty of the unknown. 

Adventure

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I love exploring even if it means getting lost. I love changing scenery, new experiences and the pure fun of muddling through language barriers with new friends. I love unexpected rain and getting on the wrong bus. I love travel too, but that’s not really my point here.

My point is, I am not about living a mundane life. I cannot and will not be satisfied with ordinary. That’s not how God made me. I firmly believe that God gave me a soul that craves adventure and exploration. He gave me a burning curiosity, a relentlessly questioning mind and a desire to experience as much of this world as possible.

Example A: Next week I’m taking canoeing courses to become a certified canoe tripper which is a dream I’ve had for years. I’m going to learn how to paddle rapids, deal with emergencies in the wilderness and lead trips of people. It’s going to be so fun, so challenging and an adventure for sure!

Example B: I don’t have many requirements when it comes to dating but: he’s gotta love Jesus, it’s be nice if he was taller than me and he has to be okay with love seeking out the adventures in life. Because I plan on living this life pursuing God and pursuing the joy of new experiences. Therefore my future husband, whoever he is, is going to have to be cool with that. I plan on living in the mountains of Nepal for goodness sake! Good luck man, whoever you are :’) (yes this was a fairly random point, get over it ya’ll)

To go back to my original point, simply stated, I want to soak up all this world has to offer and try scary things. The comfort zone is not a place I’d like to be familiar with.

So yeah. I don’t really know what this post is about or if it has any point at all. I’m just late night dreaming about how cool our world is and how excited I am to explore it. I mean, I titled a blog about my life “Sam’s Grand Adventure”…can you tell yet that I like excitement and the extraordinary wonders of day to day life? Simply being alive everyday is an adventure in and of itself. No one has ever been Sam before and everyday is an unknown. How absurdly wonderful.

Seriously, I’m pumped! Life is cool, the world is incredible, humans amaze me, and God is good. God is good, always.

Psalm 37:4 says to Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” WOW. How lucky am I to have a God that creates such a magical world and then, because He loves me, fulfills my desire to explore it? Answer: Blessed beyond measure.

For real though, I’ve been pretty blessed so far and I can’t imagine all the things God has up His proverbial sleeve for my future. Ready to climb mountains, stomp in puddles, chat with a stranger in a book store, drink new flavours of tea, laugh until I cry, sit in silence beside a lake and walk through the stalls of a bustling market place.

Yep, I think that’s all I have to say for now. You may return to your regularly scheduled Facebook scrolling. #Sorrynotsorry for interruption. 😉

Until next time, Sam ❤

 

Like a Bird

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not be weary, they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 40:31

I’m starting to truly realize how transient life as a student can be. Thinking back, in the last two years I have lived in 3 different cities, not including the two months I spent on an island at camp. Right now I live in a residence building with a lease of just 8 months and then I will be back on the island for 3-4 months. 6 months from now I’ll presumably be back in Ottawa but as of now, I haven’t got a clue where I’ll be resting my head. Home (as in Barrie) isn’t home anymore. But neither is Ottawa. And what about when I start co-op terms? I’ll be displaced to different cities for 4 month stints where again and again I will have to make friends and try to carve out space for myself. It’s kind of scary. It’s kind of exciting. It makes me feel sort of floaty and untied. I was never the kid who moved around a lot when I was younger. I went to my elementary school for 10 years and my high school for 4. We changed houses a few times but I always lived in the same 5 kilometre radius. I’m not used to being so unanchored. When I went back to Barrie at Christmas, I drove around and just looked at all the familiarity. The gas stations, parks, schools, intersections and street corners that had made up my childhood world.

I don’t know why this makes me feel so strange. After all, the wanderlust is strong. I love exploring new cities and breathing the air of new places. I thrive off of meeting new people. I think it’s not so much the fear of what’s new but the loss of what’s old that makes me feel uncomfortable. These may seem like one and the same but I don’t think they are. Switzerland was incredible and stretching and a learning experience. But I always knew I was coming home at the end. Now, I don’t even know where home is. I mentioned in one of my posts at the end of last year that I realized how important family is but missing family is not the same as missing home. 

Just out of curiosity, I looked up the definition of the word home. There were several definitions, especially because the word can have so many functions within a sentence. Two of them however really caught my eye.

Home, noun: the place where one lives permanently, particularly as part of a family or household

Home, verb: to move or be aimed toward (a target or destination) with great accuracy 

Ok, so I’ve pretty much accepted that for my time as a student I am not going to have somewhere that I “live permanently”. What about the second definition? To be aimed toward with great accuracy. This reminded me of a homing pigeon, which can find it’s way where it needs to go and yet always knows it’s way back to where it came from 

I am homing. I do not have “a” home, but I am homing. I will navigate these next years, always moving, always aimed towards something new and fresh and yet I will remember my home; I will find my way back from time to time. And one day, one day, I will settle and be permanent. But for now I am in transit like a bird.

What’s the target? I don’t know. I’m trusting God with that one. I do know that if I keep trusting Him, my steps will continue to have great accuracy. I will get to explore and learn and find new corners of my heart for each person and place that I learn to love. And in that way, I will always be “home”.

-Until next time, Sam

Some pictures of places I’ve called home the past two years. Where will be next?

 

 

Crossing Oceans

When I was in grade twelve, I kind of had a habit of getting into intense debates. Still do to be honest. But in grade twelve I was really starting to discover what I was passionate about and I was blessed enough to be put in classrooms with teachers who encouraged me to think for myself and friends who constantly challenged me (thanks). I learn best from talking things through and so these debates led to break throughs in how I thought. They often made me realize my beliefs, as I defended them.

So, I’m in my grade 12 religion class and the theme is ethics and morality. Inevitably we start talking about how to treat other people…and if our treatment of them should be dependant on how they treat us. And I’ll never forget the next 15 minutes or so that unfolded. One of the boys in the back of the class started, very determinedly I may add, stating that people who didn’t respect him did not deserve his respect in return. From his point of view, it was acceptable for him to treat people as “less than” if they didn’t give him the respect that he thought he deserved. He saw respect and care for other people as a transaction. I give you, you give me. And all the kids in my class nodded their heads and something inside of me just pulled back and felt sick. And being Sam, I decided I could not let this brief conversation go by without fighting back.

Suddenly I found myself at the center of a debate, my main argument being that human beings deserve respect solely on the basis that they are people. You do not have to like someone. You do not have to be best friends. But human beings deserve basic respect and someone else not showing you love does not give you an excuse to treat them subpar. I was very respectful but very adamant that he was wrong. We never did come to an agreement that day but I did learn a lot about my own thoughts and views.

A couple of weeks ago I was scrolling through Facebook, as one does, and I came across this post. I’m assuming that its a screenshot from a Tumblr post or something? I’m not super on top of my Tumblr knowledge (psst WordPress is better). 

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So I see this post and, I’m not exaggerating, I wanted to shout and jump around because YES. Yes, yes, yes a million times over. I wanted to find the person who wrote the second half of this and shake their hand. This is what love is. This is what life is about. This takes what I was trying to get that boy in my class to understand and takes it one step further. Because I would say that going further than only respect, we should actually love all people.

Here’s the thing. As humans, our gut reaction is to read just the first part of this and nod our heads in agreement. Obvious right? Why go above and beyond for anyone who isn’t willing to do the bare minimum for you? And that logic makes sense…if we’re being selfish. And if we’re being close minded. And if we want to limit our potential for love and fullness of life. But life is not just about us as individuals. Our world is beautifully interconnected and intertwined. Life is about connections. 

I love people. I really do. I think people are fascinating and quirky and wonderful and weird and I love it. When people ask me why I’m studying International Development, the first words out of my mouth are always “I love people” (I have lots of others but this is the first). Because even though I do not know every individual on this planet, I do know that every single one of them has potential. They all have strengths and weaknesses and dreams and ideas. They have stories and pasts that give them a unique perspective. They know things that I don’t. And I love them. Regardless of the mistakes they make or the way they act, God made them with a purpose and if I want to live a full life, I want to show people love.

Obviously this perspective is heavily influenced by my faith. I’ve experienced love and sacrifice from my God on a level that I will never truly understand. I mean hello, died for us? And as much as I try to love people unconditionally and without strings attached, I definitely fall short sometimes. It’s hard! We disagree or we feel hurt when someone doesn’t appreciate our efforts. But when I step back, it always comes back to love. And I want to let the love God has given to me overflow into every aspect of my life, every breath I take, every word I speak, every person I meet and every day that I get on this earth.

1st Corinthians 13:7 says “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” I want to learn what it means to love recklessly and enduringly. I want to love, regardless of what I get in return. Will I get hurt sometimes? Definitely. Sometimes loving people I don’t even know means I cry about earthquakes in other countries or get righteously and furiously angry about inequity. Love means being open to heartbreak, and I’m okay with that because the reward outweighs the risk, big time.

So I will cross oceans. I will climb mountains. I will step out of my comfort zone again and again. I will turn to God as an example and I will turn to people as the purpose. I will greet everyone as “friend”. I will connect and I will laugh with people who do not share my language. I will try my very best not to let my temporary frustrations influence the way I treat people.

Let’s not put ties on our lives. Let’s live fully and with love. Do it. Cross whatever “ocean” you’ve been avoiding and extend love to the people you see as unloveable, whether it be because of the way they’ve treated you or because of your own bias. Open your eyes. See worth rather than flaw. 

This all sounds pretty basic. Like, we know, treat others how you want to be treated, thanks Mom. But seriously. I want to be known for being a woman who loved fiercely and compassionately rather than one who was bitter and so wrapped up in her own comfort that she forgot how valuable people and relationships really are.

Take a risk. You’ll survive a little heartbreak but f you never love openly, you won’t truly live.

– Until next time, Sam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planes, Trains and Automobiles…and Buses…and Subways

Hey friends! How’s life?

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The girl who lives next to me in residence mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I always greet people with “friends” and since then I’ve been very aware that that is almost become a catch phrase of mine. But really, I do it because I mean it. I love all the human beings I know, with their little quirks and personalities and I consider everyone to be my friend. Including you dear readers! Anyway, that was a side bar. Sorry for being distracted.

Speaking of being distracted, it’s been close to a month since my last post! Where oh where does the time go? Even now, I really should be doing my economics project or studying for my history midterm but hey, we all need study breaks sometimes. And at least blogging is “productive procrastination”. Life is just busy!
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Since I last wrote, I’ve been on two “adventures” that included actually leaving city boundaries. One was a weekend trip to Quebec City to experience Carnevale and the sweet charm of Old Town. I’d been before and seriously loved it and it didn’t fail to meet my memories expectations. We explored, we ate, we shopped, we drank Cariboo (the signature drink) and visited the ice palace, we tried “tire d’erable” and danced in the snow and went to a nightclub. We made new friends and spoke lots of “Franglish”. It was so much fun. I almost didn’t go because I didn’t really have the time or the money but I am so glad that I did. (My pictures here just didn’t want to upload…imagination ooooh, ahhhh, poutine, pretty buildings.) UPDATE: pictures are here now!

 

Secondly, I just came home from a week in the Dominican Republic! Although I was sassily told this week that by a friend that he “got more tan staying in Ottawa” than I did by going away, it was really relaxing and nice to spend time with my family (Mom, sister, aunts and family friends). I just lay on the beach and read and napped and played in the waves all week long. And, was sorely disappointed by the dismal Spanish skills…I seriously need to brush up! (In all my spare time right?) One day we left the resort and toured through the city of Purto Plata. My favourite part was when we took a cable car up one the highest mountains in the country. It was so beautiful! Ya’ll know I got a thing for mountains. There was a national park at the top and I dragged Mal up and down several winding forest paths to see the lagoon and visit a cave.

Honestly, it just felt good to have a change of scenery. I get so antsy staying in one place for too long and this was the first time I had been on a plane since coming home from my exchange, almost 2 years ago exactly. As the title suggests, I took just about every form of transportation possible to get from Ottawa to Toronto to Porta Plata and back but I loved it. I love airports and train stations. I love how everyone is basically trapped together in this little building. And then, as if someone dropped and shattered a glass, we go flying to every corner of the globe, sending friends, family, strangers…everyday to new places. All kinds of people can be there all at once, for all different purposes. Are they scared, excited? Where are they going? Is someone meeting them on the other side? I don’t know, it just makes me think and want to people watch. Airports have a lot of potential and they make me happy 🙂

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That’s all for now, just a little update post. Kind of random and a little messy but that’s ok with me. I hope it’s okay with you too. Best of luck to those of you with me in the midterm grind. We got this! Smile today. Put on some happy music and do a little jig in your room or your car or right outside on the street. You’re alive! You’re alive and today, today is a good day to be human.

-Until next time, Sam

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P.S. Oh wow! I almost forgot. If I’m doing a life update, I have to include my two new volunteer assignments! I’ve started both of them now.

Foot Patrol. Basically, this is a service at my school that runs weekdays from 8pm-2am that offers walks to people who don’t want to walk at night alone. I go on Mondays from 8-11 and myself, along with a partner are able to walk people home so they feel safe, or just have some company. I love to walk and I love to talk, so basically, it’s the best thing ever.

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Sage Youth. This is a literacy organization that I am SO excited to be working with. Although it has programs all over the city, the one that I am currently helping with is with the Syrian refugee children that have recently arrived in Canada. Once a week, I go and help teach English to kids, many of whom have never spoken the language before. I went for the first time today and it was so chaotic but so fun. They are eager to learn and so polite and all of them want “teacher” to hear them read over everyone else haha. Some of them are just learning the alphabet. Anyway, I’m looking forward to next week.

That’s all, just thought I’d share how I’ve been trying to get involved. It feels good.