Monthly Archives: July 2013

Church

My friend posted a comment asking what I thought of the new Pope.  I responded to her, but wanted to chat a bit about my experience in the Catholic church.

Like most people, I got hurt.  It was through my mother.  She was a divorced woman, and although her marriage was annulled, she was sometimes  condemned and judged.

When I started going to a Protestant church, I discovered that people from other denominations have also been hurt.  It was actually refreshing to hear this, and to know that it wasn’t just the Catholic church.

See, the problem is that we let people inside the church, give them leadership roles, expect them to be holy and without fault, perfect.  Unfortunately, they are human.  There’s going to be some emotional damage.  It’s par for the course.

That said, I have found healing in the church.  I have met some great people, who are not perfect, who sometimes say hurtful things (unintentionally), but who love me as I am.  That’s amazing!

Toward the Catholic church my heart was hardened.  I would act like a defiant child.  “You’re not going to tell me what to do,” as I would plan to take communion knowing my heart was not in the right place to do so.  I would inevitably end up in tears in the mass, and leave without taking communion.

God has softened my heart toward the Catholic church.  For this, I am grateful.  For better or worse, it is a part of my culture and heritage.  It’s a part of who I am.

I have been spending some time in the Catholic church lately.  I went to St. Mary’s church on Sunday.  It was early.  So, I went to Starbuck’s and got myself an Americano.  (The church I regularly attend is pretty laid back, so I did not think much of bringing in a Starbuck’s drink until I sat down.)

The thing I noticed about St. Mary’s was that my Starbucks felt really out of place.  I don’t think that God was sitting up on his throne,  condemning  or judging me.  I don’t think he turned to Jesus and said, “Put that one on the smiting list.”

I also did not receive any glares from anyone in the church.

So, if it was not God, and it was not the people, then what or who was it.

Me!  As I sat in St. Mary’s watching the people bow and kneel before the altar, I was reminded that God is holy.  He is deserving of reverence, awe, respect!

I am getting a little weepy as I write this.  The truth of who God is seemed to yell and shout in St. Mary’s.  Not in a bad way, but in a very good way.

The church is a place to come and worship the living God, the Holy one of Israel.

So next time I go, I can still have the Starbuck’s Americano.  I’ll just get a small one and finish it before I get to church.  Or, treat myself to one after church.

Can I get an “Amen”?  🙂

I would love to hear your church stories or experiences.  Please feel free to share the good, the bad and the ugly.

Copyright © 2013 by Elizabeth Potvin

Oh Canada!

Hi!

I went to a wedding yesterday.  It was interesting.  The groom is Catholic French-speaking, while the bride is Protestant English.  Both sides were represented in the form of a Catholic priest and a Protestant pastor.

As I sat there listening to the Catholic priest, he repeatedly used the word, “l’amour”.  I naturally thought, ‘L’amour est toujours l’amour’.  It was flowery and lovey, lovey.  I fully expected Celine Dion to pop out from behind a pillar or come bounding up the steps from behind us singing, “The Power of Love” – “‘Cos I’m your laadaayyyyyy, and you are my maaaaaaan”…

It actually gave me a pretty good understanding of what people mean when they say Celine is very “Quebecoise”.   As I watched the priest, I thought, ‘Ah, got it’.

The priest said something like, ‘What more can I say when the two of you are speaking volumes’.  I looked around.  Where’s Celine?  I imagined she was somewhere in the building weeping.

Then it was the Protestant’s turn.  His homily was different, so different, I actually wondered if they were trying to be as far apart from each other as British Columbia is from Newfoundland.

His homily was real.  A little too real.  He spoke of the phases of marriage, and how one day (seven years in), they would be asking themselves whether they wanted  to spend the rest of their lives together.  He encouraged them to stick it out.

Now, maybe if I didn’t have the priest standing before me in his white robe, the Protestant message may not have come across as negatively as it did.

Sitting in my seat, I wondered if I was imagining all of this.  Could it be possible?  Could the gap between French-Canada and English-Canada be so far?

Then I confess I was sort of thankful to be an English-speaking Catholic.  I felt so normal.  🙂

Interestingly enough, during brunch I sat at a table with a French-Canadian and his lovely bride.  They have both been married before with children from their previous marriages.  Being a French-Canadian Catholic, he actually found the Protestant message “refreshing”, while my poor Protestant friend was beside herself, and thought she should maybe consider switching over to the Catholic side.  (I don’t think she was entirely serious about that.) But, “l’amour” was sounding a lot better to her than the down-to-earth Protestant reality.

It felt like both sides needed to come together.  (And, for the record my Protestant/Catholic friends are a lot “closer together” than their represented church leaders.)

So, if you are a French Catholic marrying an English Protestant , I would encourage you to marry in the centre of Canada.  It just feels like it would be a good middle-ground, meeting place.

And where is the centre of Canada you ask?

Read on:

THE QUESTION

What is the closest town to the geographical midpoint of Canada? Paul Hughes of Toronto wants to know.

THE ANSWER

Ottawa’s Mark Shore learned from Natural Resources Canada that the centre can be measured in many ways, but “the most readily understood would be by taking the midpoint of the extremities of the Canadian land mass.”

The extremities that Natural Resources cited were: Cape Aldrich, Nunavut, in the north; Middle Island, Ont. (just south of Pelee Island) in the south; Cape Spear, Nfld., in the east; and the southern end of the Yukon-Alaska border in the west.

“All of which means that the geographical centre of this great nation is (drum roll, please) – just south of Yathkyed Lake in Nunavut, west of Hudson Bay. The co-ordinates are: 62 degrees, 24 minutes north; 96 degrees, 28 minutes west.  (From:  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/revealed-the-true-centre-of-canada/article562901/)

Now, doesn’t that sound like a lovely place for a wedding and you could even combine the honeymoon all in one?   Like those crazy people who go to places like the Bahamas.  Nunavut!!!  Okay, well maybe not.

I guess the real point here would be to love one another because of our differences.  That might be a pretty good starting point.

Let all the Catholics and Protestants say, “Amen!”

 

 

 

Little Miracles

Hi there,

So, yesterday was July 22nd, 2013.  Do you know what that means?

Yep, it’s the birthday of the future King of England.  Happy (belated) Birthday (as yet) nameless One.

I confess I was slightly disappointed when I heard they had a boy.  It means for approximately the next 100 years we will have a King instead of a Queen.

During my lifetime, I have only ever known Queen Elizabeth, so it feels strange to think that we will have three successions of Kings.  Charles, William, and Baby.

It will take some getting used to when Queen Lizzy leaves the throne.  Being an “Elizabeth”, I feel that I may take the liberty of referring to my name sake as “Lizzy”.  We go way back…

I also love how the articles on-line tell us what Kate was wearing.  In case you didn’t catch it, well, let me inform you.  She was wearing “British designer Jenny Packham’s baby blue polka dot dress”.  I wonder if she had the dress in pink too, just in case?

Generally, I have mixed feelings as the world goes mad for people they don’t even know.

The other part of me is of course happy for them. The birth of a baby is a miracle and should be celebrated as such, regardless of whether the child is “royal” or “common”.

I am sure Grandpa Charles is tickled-blue.

The thing about new-born babies is that they give us hope for the future.  They’re so innocent and wonderful that we can’t help but smile when they smile (or pass gas as some believe).

Either way, it’s a good day.

I extend my heartfelt congratulations to all the other new parents out there, whose day is/was eclipsed by the royal baby.

Your baby’s pretty special too!!  Enjoy your new little one!  🙂

Blessings,

Ellie

 

Real

Hi!

I feel like being real today.

I am emotionally spent.  A friend unintentionally hurt me, and being myself, I acted as though nothing were wrong, came home and cried.

I have a pretty hard time letting people see that I am hurt.  I have the-I-must-never-be-vulnerable-syndrome. It’s a problem.

According to Myers-Briggs,  I have the personality type that tends to bury hurtful comments and actions inside, whether they be intentional or unintentional.   Then, like an elephant I remember these affronts, forever.

Basically, I start a list inside my heart when people say or do things that are hurtful.  Then I start tallying up the hurtful comments/actions like I was playing “Tic-Tac-Toe”.

As time passes, and the number of offences inevitably grow, I become bitter and resentful toward the person.  And then this is the best part! (Pardon my sarcasm.)  I retreat, backing away from the person either slowly or in a mad dash.  So, the person never knows that I have been hurt.  Sounds crazy, eh?

You know that old saying, “Never let them see you sweat.”  Well, in my case, it’s “Never let them see you cry.”

My relationship with my dad is pretty awful (he’s an alcoholic).  His comments are meant to hurt, to strike and wound me.  I am not trying to blame my father for all of my issues.  (At some point we have to grow up, and take responsibility for our own actions.)  What I think I am saying is that because of his malicious intent to wound me, I developed a stubborn pride that refuses to let him know he has won, that his sharp arrows have pierced my heart, a survival tactic I have obviously held onto.

Most of us have emotional triggers and insecurities.  It amazes me how we can set each other off, and pick at each other’s vulnerabilities, or more to the point, our issues.

It’s like I have this “Bulls-Eye” on me with a sign that reads, “Aim here to cause injury.”

Thanks to my dad, one of my issues is believing that in  the end no one will stick around.  And, thanks to my mom’s schizophrenia, I feel that I am and always will be on the outside, excluded, an outcast.  They’re pervasive.

This latter one got me today.  It was kind of a surprise attack.  I was having a pretty good day up until 11:45 a.m.

The other thing I realized is that my survival strategies are changing.

For instance, I just read the Bible and was reminded that I am to forgive others as I have been forgiven.  It’s a good reminder.  My heart still feels a bit sore, but that darn sting of the arrow’s quiver is getting duller by the minute.

 

Canada Vs. America

Hello there!

I just woke up from a nap.  Apparently, napping helps creativity.  We shall see.

As I was thinking of something to write about, I remembered a conversation with a friend.  I said, “I don’t know why some Canadians are so anti-American.  We’re different.”

It’s natural for the ‘smaller’ country to feel intimidated by the super-power.  We don’t want to get swallowed up in their culture, so we try and distance ourselves from them.

It hasn’t really helped us in that we have imported television, film and music simply because it is a cheaper option for our government.   To invest in our own might have cost us the mint.

I guess when they sat down at Parliament, they said to themselves, “Since we share a similar language and all, hey, why not save some cash?”

It seemed to work out okay, until Canadians politely demanded, “Please, please, please can we have our own voice now?”

We still have some work to do.  I think musically we do okay.  Television, not too bad, but movies. Yikes!  Still some work to do there.  (Shout outs go to Monsieur Lazhar and Away From Her.)

Anyway, I told my friend that we Canadians do not have to worry about our identity being swallowed up by American culture because of this example:

A co-worker was telling me about how she and her husband had gone to the bank to get a pre-approved mortgage.  In their minds, they wanted $500,000.  With a $200,000 equity, it would put their mortgage at $300,000.  A number they were comfortable with.  The bank offered them $950,000, putting their mortgage at $750,000.

I believe that our banking system is no different than that of the United States’, but I wondered that the people are different.  (Generally speaking, we think differently than Americans.)

With their banks collapsing, I wondered if Americans believed the banks when they told them, “Oh, Mr. Smith, here’s a nice $1,000,000 mortgage for you.”  Maybe Mr. Smith assumed he could afford it because the bank was giving him this money, right?  And, certainly a million dollar home is nicer than one half the price.  Even I will grant you that.

My co-worker and her husband thought the bank was crazy for dangling that carrot in front of them, but took the pre-approved mortgage, and were going to look for a house they felt comfortable purchasing.  I.e. $500,000.

As for me, one time a financial consultant gave me wonderful (note sarcasm) advice.  She told me that to buy a house I could use my line of credit for the down payment.  I thought,  ‘Is she crazy?  Go into debt to go into debt?’  It was absurd.  I knew that given my situation and salary, I could never afford to buy a house.  It seemed to me they were just asking for trouble in giving me money to buy a house I could clearly not afford to keep.

All this to say is that we Canadians are a cautious bunch.  We’re conservative, maybe a bit boring compared to our American friends, but I think this may (partly) be what keeps our economy pretty stable , and quite possibly what keeps our banks heads above water.

You’re welcome, Mr. and Mrs. Banks of Canada!  And, if you’re looking for something to do with all those extra profits, might I suggest investing in Canadian film.  Just a thought…

 

It’s getting hot in here…

Hello!

I realized I have just been diving right in without any salutation at all.  Very rude!  Very rude indeed.  🙂

I am not entirely sure what my mind is on today.  It’s hot out.  I have air conditioning, but it doesn’t quite reach all of the other rooms, just the living room!

Oh, for central air.  How I long for central air!  I am dancing in my head, swirling and twirling, because it is obviously too bloody hot to actually dance.

That said, I was at the gym this morning and watched an interview with the latest Ottawa Senator.  Not someone in the government, but the hockey team.  One can get confused in this city.

“If you refuse to pay your taxes, we will come to your door and beat you with our hockey sticks.”

YIKES!  Anyway, I just think it’s kind of “funny” the way they put these guys up on pedestals, only to knock them down the second they go through a bit of scoring drought or whatever the case may be.

It’s partly the reason I don’t really watch sports anymore.  And, I actually really like sports.  The athleticism of these people is amazing. The perseverance and determination of the baseball player diving to make a catch or leaping to make a catch is amazing.  Golf – well, not so amazing.  I could even get into American football.  The guy running for a touchdown.  It’s exciting stuff.

But, I really don’t like the environment, the booing, etc.  And, I also am not particularly fond of (some of) the players extracurricular activities.  I think you know what I mean.

There was this guy I used to work with, who put himself down in comparison.  He told me this story about meeting with a few hockey players – apparently, the restaurant/bar had closed its doors/exceeded the limit of patrons or something of that nature.  He told them, and got a look that said, “Maybe for you, but not for us.”

Now to be fair not all athletes are jackasses, and I think it must be a tough environment to have to work in.  That said, there are also some privileges that the rest of us don’t get.

Ah, celebrity culture.  That’s part of the problem.  I just kind of felt bad for this guy I worked with – I think he bought into the lie that he is  a “loser” because of his income, status, appearance – you know all the usual stuff.  I wanted to yell and scream at him, that he was worthy and valuable, but it somehow didn’t seem entirely appropriate in the middle of the hallway.  I may have just said the guys sounded like jerks.

Thing is, is that I have heard stories of actresses breaking down into tears when a magazine airbrushes her arms and legs.  Arms and legs I am sure she works out a tonne to get, and also deprives herself of all the good things in life.  Yes, I am speaking of gelato, cheesecake, and Godiva chocolate.

Speaking of chocolate, I feel like I am bloody-well melting in this heat.

Total random blog, and a total random ending as sweat begins to drip down my temples.  Ick!!  And, since I am trying to limit the amount of sugar I take in (strictly for health reasons, not because I think I’m fat), I don’t even have any chocolate or ice cream to console me.

That is sadness indeed!

Worship

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “A person will worship something, have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will come out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping, we are becoming.”

I heard this quote many years ago in an English Lit. class.  I instantly loved it.

When I heard this quote, I naturally put it into a Christian perspective.  I am supposed to be worshipping Jesus and therefore becoming more like him and through him, becoming more like God.  (I am not saying I am becoming God, but that every day my character is becoming more in line with His character and bearing fruit – I.e. kindness, gentleness, love, joy, peace…)

I used the expression “supposed to be” because I get distracted.  My eye wanders, and I begin to want things, like new clothes, or shoes, or a car…  My last post talked about our affinity to material things.

It’s okay to want new things, but I think the heart needs to be tested.

I have found that the question, “Why” helps a lot!  I ask myself, “Why do you want a car?”  “Why do you want new shoes?” etc., etc.  If I am being honest with myself, and answering the questions truthfully, I can gauge whether or not my desire is pure or strictly for popularity, acceptance, or an issue of self-worth and value…

I think most of us have similar insecurities, regardless of whether we are Christian, Hindu, Atheists, etc.

I believe when we strip away all of these “things” to which we identify ourselves, we are pretty much the same.  This is probably the reason why I love stories so much.  Good literature and good movies show us who we are.  We watch as the character grows, becomes enlightened, and moves forward with a changed heart and mind.  It’s inspirational!

Most of what we read in good literature has a “universality” to it that connects East and West, North and South.

Colour lines become blurred.  Religious lines become blurred.  We can learn from each other and laugh and cry with each other over these wonderful created characters, that are really you and me.

I also like how Emerson calls me to accountability.  I may think that my “tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will come out.”  That darkness will be brought out into the light and exposed.

Again, I think the question “Why” cuts to the heart of the issue and helps me get back on track.  It’s a daily chore, but one I feel is worth it.

And lastly, I loved that he used the word, “behooves”.  How come we don’t use words like that anymore?  Such a shame really.

As for me, I have chosen to follow Jesus.  This was my personal choice, so I look to him. I am grateful to have him as a model  and teacher. (However challenging that may be!  Still grateful for his example.)

My hope for those of you who do not have God in your life, is that you will find something of goodness to inspire you, that will keep you moving forward, forever changed.  I wish you abundant blessing and much love!

Raising Funds of…

“Let us more and more insist on raising funds of love, of kindness, of understanding, of peace. Money will come if we seek first the Kingdom of God – the rest will be given.”

Can you guess who said this?

I was trying to think of a topic to write on, and was skimming through my documents and saw, “Quotes by Mother Theresa.”

She was quite the woman.  Apparently, she spent most of her life not hearing from God directly.  It left her feeling quite lonely and I am sure “forsaken” and yet she plodded on, giving us wisdom, encouragement, hope, but most of all, love.

Amazing!

The reason why this quote struck me today was because of ‘”money”.  I know money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy other things and it can be used to help others.  Not such a bad thing.

I was just thinking, I confess, that if God would just drop some cash on me, I could do good things too.  This was  a timely reminder!

We also live in a culture pretty much obsessed with money.  Even  charities – must raise funds, more funds…  It never seems to be enough.

Although, I think pretty much every culture, whether Eastern, Western, Southern, Northern, in every era, in every time in history has held tight to its possessions.

A few years back I went to an Exhibit on Pompeii.  You remember Pompeii, the place buried in volcanic ash when Mount Vesuvius (according to Wikipedia) erupted.  It was kind of freaky to think that the hollow shells of people, animals, etc., have been preserved.

I walked about looking at the empty shells of where real, live people had died in 79 AD.

Wikipedia says this, “Details of everyday life are preserved. For example, on the floor of one of the houses (Sirico’s), a famous inscription Salve, lucru (Welcome, money), perhaps humorously intended, indicates a trading company owned by two partners, Sirico and Nummianus (but this could be a nickname, since nummus means coin, money).”

Ahh, the love of money!  The sad thing was that some people might have survived if they had not returned home to get their money, coins, valuables, etc.

I wondered at myself.  Would I run back to get my purse?  It not only has my bank card, credit card, but also my ID, my driver’s license.  How could I prove that I am me without that information?  And, why do I need to prove that I am “me”.  To get my money out of the bank of course!!

But, what if I died, like the people in Pompeii, because I was so concerned about those things?  Seems like they’re not so important, and yet as human beings, these are the things most of us probably think of in emergency situations.

And, how did they even know the decision to turn back was going to lead to death.  They probably didn’t.

And,  so now back to Mother Theresa, who grounds me and reminds me that there is real value in things that have no monetary value.  Kindness, a smile, love, understanding, peace.

These things probably have more value than any of the rarest minerals, jewels, bars of gold each of us could store up.

How much would I have spent to have someone be a little bit more compassionate toward me in the past when I have been hurt, low, depressed?  I am sure a lot!!

Here’s the challenge.  You could see it coming, couldn’t you?

Try it.   When you are going into your office building, wait for a second, and hold the door for the person coming in from behind you.  Try and be a bit more understanding of that hormonal teenager, who is driving you completely nuts.  He or she will grow up eventually – I know I did, and look at how well I turned out!!  You’ll have to take me at my word on that one.  Smile -:)

And, please let me know how one day of intentional kindness,  understanding and peace made a difference in your day or someone else’s.  I would love to hear from you!

PS- If you want to read or learn more about Pompeii, just click on this link:   http://www.history.com/topics/Pompeii

 

 

 

The Apple Blues

First off, I am happy to confirm that Frankie can act.  I watched High Society with Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra.
He was good too.  I can safely recommend a Frank Sinatra movie to you!

And, now onto the Apple Blues. I have just recently gotten rid of my land-line and cell phone and merged them into an I-phone.  For most people this might be an exciting venture.  Unfortunately, I am not like most people.

One downside is that I am hooked in for a three-year contract (Yikes), but figured I needed service anyway.

The other downside is this:

Once you go “Apple” or “Android” or “Whatever” you are now linked to “Those” people.  It’s like the marriage vow, “For better or for worse.”  In this case it is the latter.

I have to endure little “friendly-fire” jokes like, “You Apple people” to, well, for lack of  a better word, disdain to my I-phone.

For me, the problem lies in that I have never been one to buy into something because it was popular or cool.  My mother told me a story once about how I bought a pair of shoes and said, “I don’t care if no one else likes them, I do.”

That said, I am not a person to purposely go against fashion or the tide of what is currently popular.  I just like to do my own thing.

Needless to say, all of these boxes people put us in given our buying preferences drive me up a wall.

I discovered that artsy people are supposed to like Mac, not Microsoft, which is what I own.  I tend not to follow these types of ‘trends’.  I am clearly not in “the know”.

As a consumer I like to spread my money around a bit.  Not giving all my hard-earned cash to one company, but sharing the love and prosperity.  I don’t like the thought of one person/company getting all my money.  (Psychoanalysis welcome.)  It just feels wrong.

Plus, there are many good companies out there making great products.  Why stick to just one?

That said, when my three-year contract is up, I think I’m going to go Android, and maybe run out and buy that Mac computer, just ‘cos I do kind of like messing with people’s heads a bit.  🙂

La famiglia

I am now Italian!  Thanks to Google Translate.

I do have some Italian background in me – on my paternal mother’s side.  I find myself doing the “fingers crunched together, hand waving in the air emphatically,” which is crazy because the Italian bit is 200 + years ago!!

Someone at work said, “Sorry, it’s in the blood”.  I’m good with it.
I like the Italian people.  Who couldn’t like a people who invented pasta  and gelato?  Madness,  I tell you!!  It just amuses me!

Like it or not, we inherit the good and bad from our families.  Sometimes, I tend to focus on the bad things, like my flat feet.  Or, if I am really going to be honest, my temper.  It’s what I learned, but as I have “grown up”, I have realized it is something that can be tamed.  This is good news.  🙂

What I rarely focus on are the good things my family have given me, like my off-beat sense of humour and wit.  I also received another gift from my mom, for which I am thankful.

Cooking and baking.  I love eating, and conveniently enjoy the process of cooking and baking.

On a side-note, allspice is amazing.  Add some (along with a pinch of nutmeg) to your banana bread, blueberry muffins, and the like.  Deliciousness!

Today, my mom told me that it was her father who had taught her to cook.  When she was about 13-14 years old, her mother was away over night babysitting.  Her dad and her were on their own, so they made chicken stew for dinner.

They threw in all sorts of spices from the cupboard.  When they were cooking the chicken, my grandpa added wine.  He gave my mom strict orders, “Do not tell your mother.”  She kept the secret.  When my grandmother, surprised that my grandfather quite liked the stew, asked what my mom had put in it, she feigned ignorance.

I wondered if it was my grandpa’s French/Italian background that made his culinary taste and ability superior to that of my Scottish grandmother.  Sorry Scots!  I just pose the question.  (The shortbread cookies are absolutely delicious though.  I will grant you that, but not sure if cooking in Scotland is similar to the Irish’s boiled potatoes.)

In defence of my grandmother, she was a good cook.  I cannot for the life of me make her ‘Smelts’ (little fish, which are called by different names depending on your region).  She would coat them with cornmeal and fry them up in butter.  So good.  Sounds simple, but mine never turn out.

And, her cornbread.  I finally succeeded in making cornbread, but hers, “Oh, melt in your mouth goodness!”

Maybe I just take after my grandfather and mother?  Throwing “random” spices in a pot of whatever masterpiece I am attempting to create.

The problem with being a renegade cook is that we can’t really duplicate it.  So, if it’s good enjoy it.  And, please don’t ask us for the recipe because there isn’t one.  Sorry!

To recap then – the secret cooking ingredient  – wine.  I think pretty much anything will taste good if you add wine to it.  Just don’t tell Grandma!

Oh, and one last thing. Open up your cupboards. Don’t be scared.
I dare you to become a renegade in the kitchen!