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The Battle Within and Without

 

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I watched a short video clip recently that left me feeling profoundly motivated and inspired. The video clip was about mascara. True story.

How, I wondered, can a video about mascara possibly be this inspiring? I don’t even wear mascara!

The answer lies in the process that was described. This small group of innovative women wanted to create something that had never before been created: a safe, highly effective, toxin-free mascara. It seems ludicrous to me that this isn’t already the norm, but that is another story.

These women were laughed at.
They were told it wasn’t possible.
They were ridiculed.

The brief description of their story made me think of Noah when God told him to build an ark, nowhere near water. Everyone laughed at him and thought he was nuts. But who was the winner in the end? And so goes this story.

For me, the video struck a chord deep within. I, like many of us, have a strong, persuasive inner voice that says things like “you can’t do this”, “you will be ridiculed”, “this is not a good idea, the outcome isn’t guaranteed”. This voice is my group of mockers, of nay-sayers. This voice keeps me from being all that I want to be, all that I was created to be.

I know that my ultimate desire is to become ALL that God has created me to be. And I believe that this person is courageous and a risk taker, passionate about justice, one who loves far beyond herself, one who says “yes! I will try!”, one who doesn’t just want to make a difference in the world but one who is willing to go for it and take risks to create those changes. Yes, this is who I want to be. And this is the person that this video spoke to.

So here I am. I have joined this movement. I have joined this company whose mission is “to get safe products into the hands of everyone”. Sometimes I am passionately excited and motivated and on board. And sometimes I am terrified and think “what am I doing? I can’t do this”, “I am annoying people” (by talking about the truth?). This voice lies a lot. This I am learning.

I want to be like the women in this video:

To stand when others laugh at me.
To say “yes I can” when they say “you can’t”
To believe that I can be different, and that I can make a difference against all odds.

I have a father who dedicated 8 years teaching overseas, because he believed he could make a difference. He spent the majority of his career inspiring high school students to become more than they thought they could be. He had the patience of Job, and then some. And he succeeded. I still hear from old high school friends about how much they loved my dad as a teacher. That is pretty awesome!

I have a mother who started her own NGO because she saw a need. She, like these women in this video, was playing in the boys club, but she did it anyway, with great success. Her passion has impacted thousands and thousands directly, and continues to impact thousands indirectly through the eye hospital that continues to blossom in Kumasi, Ghana.

I have a husband who has dedicated his life to creating change, training up farmers in remote African villages, working on policies in Parliament, journeying with addicts in our church, our neighborhood and the Ottawa Mission. He is fearless and wise.

With these role models and mentors, I know it is within me to truly go for it and join this mission for change! I long for a future where toxic chemicals are banned, where we can buy products and food without reading every ingredient on the label for fear of what might be held within. I am one person, but I have decided to join a greater movement. I am writing this story because I need to speak the truth to myself, first and foremost. And I am sharing this story because I need accountability. During those times when that nay-saying voice tells me I am being ridiculous and should quit, I need to remember what I have written here. Knowing that I have shared it broadly will help keep me accountable to my own goals.

I want to make a difference, both within, and without.

See the mascara video here:   https://www.facebook.com/BeautycounterbyPascale/

http://www.beautycounter.com/pascalecherry

Take care of your body
This is me in the kayak on the West Coast
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Canadians are crazy: A Kiwi perspective

A few days before Christmas our next door neighbor headed south and handed over her home to a couple of Kiwis from New Zealand. This lovely couple arrived in Canada, excited to experience a Canadian winter. I brought over some Christmas cookies in the pouring rain and 15 degree weather on December 22nd…

But then, as it always does in Ottawa, winter arrived with a bang! And we have snow. Lots of snow.

Our Kiwi friends had a lesson in shoveling the driveway and have ventured out for many walks. They are loving the snow and the mild temperatures. But they are seeing some things that are very puzzling.

Question: “We walked by the hill at the park and saw a dad putting his one and half year old on a sled and happily pushed the child down the hill. The child was laughing, then crashed, then cried. And then got up and did it all over again. Is this a Canadian right of passage or something?”

It got me thinking how very unusual we are. We bundle our kids up and send them out to play in the freezing cold, snow, sleet, hail. “Hey kids! A storm! Everybody get dressed and out you go!!”

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Yesterday I was taking our kids sledding along with some other neighbor kids. We bumped into our Kiwi friends who were just returning from a first attempt at snow shoeing in the park. Comment: “Wow. Snow shoeing really requires a different set of muscles doesn’t it?”. Yep! Says I. Wanna come sledding with us now? You can’t visit Canada without sledding. Let me grab our Crazy Carpets so you can have a true Canadian sledding experience!

They are very eager so they readily agreed and came along with us. After a quick demonstration they hopped on and were sledding like pros, feet up high to avoid impediments to speed, spinning around backwards, flipping over. Standard sledding form when one is using a Crazy Carpet.

They then noticed that all the kids had moved over to a different spot so they went off to explore this potentially better hill. When I caught up with them they were watching with looks of mild concern. Aren’t you going to try it?, ask I. Response: “That drop is VERTICAL!” So…you aren’t going to try it? “Um. NO. We will go back over to the other hill.” Okay, enjoy the bunny hill. In truth, the kids (all aged 6-9) were careening with glee down a hill that, in the summer, is actually a rock cliff. Yes, I guess it is vertical. But I am Canadian. It didn’t seem odd to be letting my 5 year old plunge down it backwards. Is that weird?

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Yesterday I was out back with my kids and we were building short sledding track down the large piles of snow. One track ended at the brick wall of the house. Another track took you through the narrow gate to the front yard (or, into the gate door if you didn’t steer right). A third track ended at the base of the large oak tree. Crashing into stuff is fun, isn’t it? I was kind of glad our Kiwi friends weren’t watching.

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This morning our family headed over to the local rink to begin the process of packing down the snow in preparation for the first round of flooding with the fire hose. Our neighbor (not the Kiwis!) rented a couple of those big drums that you fill with water and roll over ground to level it. We dragged those over the snow to pack it down. The kids took turns. My brain was thinking that perhaps our Kiwi friends might think it a bit odd to hitch up ones children to large drums of water and ask them to pull it across the snow. It is even more fun when they help with the fire hose and get all iced up!

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We brought our Kiwi friends to a neighborhood New Year’s Eve party and they got to experience some proper down home French Canadian chansons a répondre. We sang “Chevaliers de la Table Ronde”. Anyone know it? It is a hard core drinking song. I shared that it was one of my favorite childhood songs; my dad used to sing it to me as a bedtime lullaby. A lot of people laughed. Hmmm…

I guess we Canadians are a strange lot! But we are fun and we are friendly and we are adventurous!And our Kiwi friends will get a true Canadian experience with crazy people like us living next door, inviting them to everything. And they are yes people, so they will really have a good time! I can’t wait to take them skating on the canal in minus 30 degree weather so they can experience frostbite (and maybe a Beaver Tail to make it all worth it!)

“Le merveilleux monde du jeu” – Why I need to play!

2015-01-16_13-27-55_731Children know how to play. They live in a magical world full of whimsy and wonder. They live free from reality. Free from time.
I want to live in that world!
Really.

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Somewhere along the way we lose the ability to play. Responsibility takes over and we lose the wonder.
But we NEED to play. We need whimsy.

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I watch my children with utmost fascination, often reminded by their fantasy worlds of times when I too lived in that wonderful place. A place where anything is possible and dreams are real, where a stuffed rabbit is a alive and a cardboard steering wheel actually drives me places, where building blocks present a serious business of constructing a wall and where trees and forests are magical kingdoms alive with gnomes and fairies.

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Why do we lose those places as adults?
(Apart from the reality of knowing that living there would lead to our confinement to the psychiatry ward I mean…)
Seriously?
Children have a gift that we adults need to learn to tap into!
Yes, we need to be responsible and live in reality. But why does this have to be a case of “either/or”? I am sure there is a way it can be “both/and”.
How do I live as a responsible adult AND enjoy whimsy and play? I can play some, but I know beyond a doubt that playing more would benefit my soul – and by proxy, would benefit my family.

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There are many studies out right now that suggest that our children are over scheduled and pushed to learn to much too soon. These studies all look at the benefits of play and free, unstructured time. Our culture is beginning to impose its crazed need to achieve on our children. Put them in school earlier, longer. Teach them more, sooner. Schedule them in as many extra curricular activities as possible. Give them a leg up on all the rest! Or so we think. We are all guilty to a degree.

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But as I sit and watch my children play, revelling in their imaginary world, I know this matters. I know this teaches. I know this feeds. Not just them, but me too.
I am not suggesting that I need to play with wooden blocks and stuffed animals, but I DO need to engage more regularly in a more age appropriate version of play (not that there is anything wrong with enjoying building block towers with my children). I admit that I love coloring as much (or possibly even more) than the average 5 year old, but taking it to the adult version of acrylic paints or pencil portraits takes it to a whole new level: from mindless coloring and enjoyment of making pretty pictures to a soul feeding focused moment of perfect mental escape into paints and color and creating – something my adult child needs!

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And as I wander around this children’s museum and watch in wonder as my children engage for hours on end in imaginary lives, I snap photo after photo. And they ask “why?” Can I answer that my soul needs to capture these moments as reminders to myself to play, to create, to wonder? That I am freezing frames so I can write later, creating stories of my own? Adult musings that look nothing like the wildly imaginative space cats stories nor those of hippos in tutus and dancing octopi, the stories I live in when I live in my children’s worlds.

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I love spending time in play with my children. And, I am learning more and more how much I (and all adults) also need to play. I am not big on new year’s resolutions, and in fact, as of this moment hadn’t given them a moment’s thought. However, I think that this year I need to remember to play more. Both physical play outdoors – hockey and sledding and sking – and also mental play – drawing and photos and writing and singing. And these need to be valid priorities. Why do we need to validate play as adults? Children need to play. This is a given. Adults need to play. This is not a given.
But it should be!

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I think we would all smile more and be a whole lot healthier and happier if we all just played more!

So off I go! See you at the playground.

The whole earth is filled with His glory

What do you do when things are uncertain?
When the fragility of life takes on new meaning?
When there are no answers, where do you turn?

The Glory.

Today I have spent many astonished hours recognizing the blinding reality that the whole earth is filled with His glory! My heart is buoyed by the beauty.

Look around and drink in the Glory with gratitude.
Therein lies peace.

(click on the image to enlarge if you wish)

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Amazing what we see when we stop and look closely at our surroundings.

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