Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Christians, this one's for you.

one, not everyone understands the clich├ęs that you use. telling someone that your 'church is on fire' may cause someone to call 911.

two, be careful what you say and the motive in which you say it with. words like "i'm praying for you", or my personal favourite [please sense the sarcasm], "loneliness is God's cry for intimacy" can be viewed as a copout. there are far too many 'one another' verses in the bible for me to believe that God wants us to do life alone. pray, yes, but be a friend and reach out in a practical way, too.

and lastly, people need to know what you stand for, not what you're against. i'm tired of reading about Christians grabbing signs and picketing against issues that they haven't even spent time researching. we all have our own views on homosexuality, abortion, and the like [sadly, two issues that Christians are known for fighting against], but chill the heck out and rethink your methods. [said in love and with a lot of passion of course]. more than what you're 'against', people should be able to tell you apart because of what you stand for: love, grace, and peace, to name a few. [things that i have a hard time displaying at times, too].

that's all she wrote ... for now.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

1) crack is bad.

i get it, mayor ford smoked [smokes?] crack and crack is bad, but i can't af'ford' to waste any more precious time on this, in my opinion, overly drawn out mayor publicity.

2} perspective.

i get that it's cold. i can see my breath every morning on my way to work, and i 'almost died' without the mittens i bought this week, but so far [and i don't say this lightly], thousands of people have died in the Philippines because of typhoon haiyan. sometimes we canadians need some perspective.

3) love is an action word, and 'small' acts of love can make a huge difference.

i sit here thinking about some of the thoughtful things people have done for me this past little while, and how loved they made me feel in doing so.

for dinner tonight, i enjoyed an amazing bowl of chili that my coworker brought me because she knows how much i love chili. last week, another friend dropped off my favourite starbucks' drink, followed by a thoughtful gift and a heartwarming letter. the previous week, another coworker ran over to the mall when he was done his shift and grabbed me a coffee to ensure that i stayed awake until i was done mine. and the list goes on.

my point? don't underestimate the power of kindness! the 'smallest' act of love has the ability to occupy the biggest part of our hearts.

so what are you waiting for? close my blog and go love somebody <3

Monday, September 9, 2013

the more people let me into their lives, the more i'm aware of the paralysis that often comes with a broken heart.

life is full of disappointment. that person who promised to never leave you, leaves you. the one you thought was 'the one' had a few other 'ones' on the side. you didn't get that job you were banking on. the word you feared when you got your test results back came out of your doctor's mouth. and the list goes on.

i'm not trying to be depressing here, just realistic. life can be painful and unfair sometimes. just watch the news, or, if you want to be more current, more '2013', scroll through your facebook newsfeed. people are crying out for help.

so what do we do? what can we do?

i don't know about you, but my words come up short in times like these. i sit and listen to what my friends are saying [and not saying], and my immediate reaction is to try and say something so wise that their problems wash away.

i've learned something valuable along the way, though. being there for someone - like actually being physically present - can speak more comfort to a broken heart than any word we try and come up with in the process.

sometimes it's best just to ... show up.

Monday, September 2, 2013

1) tomorrow is not guaranteed.

one of the 'clients' at a women's recovery home i used to work in passed away this week. i can't help but think about her and how much of a fighter she was. naturally, i can't help but think about death either, and how important life is. we never really know how much time we have to impact another life. make today count.

2) progress.

a situation happened in my life recently that was extremely similar to one that happened months back, only this time i responded differently. last time, i responded emotionally. this time, rationally. i took a deep breath, processed it, and acted accordingly. i'm constantly striving to be better, and do better, so it's encouraging to see some growth.

3) the critics.

“it is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” [theodore roosevelt]

there will always be critics. but they don't count ... unless we let them.

Friday, August 23, 2013

love changes people.

i was walking to the elevator the other night at 3:30a.m as i often do after work. to my surprise, a young girl approached me and asked me if i had a smoke. i looked up, noticed her mascara stained cheeks and tear washed eyes, and asked if she was okay. "i just want to go home", she said. my heart sank. i asked if i could hug her, she said yes, and clung to me as if she hadn't been hugged in a very long time. and with that, she said, God bless", and skipped down the hallway. love changes dispositions. love changes people.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

there seems to be quite the disconnect between my head and my heart these days, causing me to feel trapped in this frustrating place i like to call the 'process pathway'.

my heart tells me that many people love me, but my head tells me otherwise. and quite honestly, so does circumstance sometimes.

really though, how is it that i have dedicated my life to investing in people, and yet, when it comes down to it, i have no one to bring me ginger ale when i'm stuck in my room for three days with the flu, and/or heat stroke and dehydration?

i get it. people are busy with work and their own families. but what's the point in investing everything i have into people [which comes with sacrifice at times], when i don't have anyone to take care of me when i need taken care of?

even a phone call would have sufficed, or a simple, 'how are you feeling, paula? can i do anything?'.

i sit here battling many things as i type this. do i keep investing in others to the degree that i do without expecting anything in return? you know - 'be the change that i wish to see in the world'? - or do i shrink back and stop investing in people to the degree that i do in order to protect my already calloused heart?

now before you get all spiritual on me, christian folk, i'm fully aware that jesus invested in people without expecting anything in return, as i'm equally aware that he willingly invested in people he knew would betray him and turn on him in an instant, which blows me away every time i think about it. but i'm not jesus, and neither are you. [it was not my intent to offend anyone here].

truth be told, i bet if you were honest with yourself, you could admit that you, too, expect some kind of return for your relational investments, and feel 'jipped' if your investment isn't reciprocated to some degree, no?

i don't know. maybe i'm way out in left field here. [hopefully the same left field that rajai davis is in].

better keep processing.

please note: this blog wasn't written with anyone specific in mind.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

i've been sitting here trying to pound out a blog that could adequately describe how i've been feeling these past days, but my words have come up short. instead, i choose to kind of re-post [and by kind of i mean change it a bit] a blog i wrote back in december.

i, paula isabella, struggle with a disease called 'premenstrual dysphoric disorder', and wish more than anything that i didn't. [sorry, fellas, i promise not to get graphic].

in grade eight, i had my first bout of depression. i had no idea where it came from either. i was in the running for female athlete of the year [at 32, i still 'got game'] and an english award, i had friends, good grades, you name it; but all of a sudden, this 'thing' hit me. i went from feeling happy to hopeless, and though i didn't know it at the time, deeply depressed, which seemed to be a monthly battle from there on in.

fast forward to my 27th year. i was living in edmonton at the time and hit my deepest bout of depression yet. after spending four very long days in bed [and 15 years battling this demon], i decided that i needed to get some help. days later, i began tracking my moods on a calendar.

if i had a good day, i drew a happy face. a normal day, a normal [?] one, and when i felt depressed, i drew a sad face. it didn't take me very long to realize that these episodes were surrounding my bless-ed period. [again, sorry, fellas].

so i did what any one of us would do: i googled it [which i don't highly recommend as it usually leads you to a hypochondriac who convinces you that you have some form of cancer]. i very quickly came across a disease called 'premenstrual dysphoric disorder', and within minutes, had the answer to the question i was asking myself all of these years: "what the heck is wrong with me?"

i took my findings to my doctor, was diagnosed with PMDD almost immediately, and put on a mild anti-depressant for six months to help me cope.

in addition to this, i started seeing a counselor and began looking at ways in which i could combat this battle of mine every month.

six months later, as mentioned above, i was taken off of the anti-depressants and began fighting this demon with the tools i had been given through counseling. i had good days and bad days. i lost some friends, and quality of life, but i finally came to a point years later where i could function during these two weeks each month, even though my emotions were still too intense for me at times.

thankfully, my last bout of depression was august 2010 [right before i moved to ottawa]. I WAS FINALLY FREE AND HAD NEVER FELT BETTER. i felt content. happy. fulfilled even.

then my dad passes away. add that to the fact that i was working for an unhealthy organization, and BOOM - all of a sudden my emotions become even more amplified and i no longer [feel like i] know how to cope with life. and soon after, the depression episodes reappeared.

i withdrew. cried myself to sleep more often than not. felt hopeless. suicidal even. i tried everything. praying. reading my bible. all the things people in the church have told me i need to do in times like this. only nothing seemed to be working. life just kept getting darker and darker.

i went on meds for a bit, but soon came off of them once my pharamicist informed me that the dose i was taking would take a 'very long time to work, if at all'. i tried counseling again, only to end up counseling my counselor. [no joke]. so i sit here feeling lost again.

it's an odd feeling knowing in your heart that you have so much to be grateful for [and i do], but having your mind constantly tell you the complete opposite. for the past few days i've had this lingering voice telling me that i'm unloveable/not good enough/a failure, and truthfully, i don't have much fight left in me today to tell it otherwise.

but i get out of bed and fight any ways, hoping that i'm just a few short days away from feeling like myself again.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

i constantly wrestle with the gap between expectation and reality.

some of you know what i'm talking about. your expectations are high [or sometimes even realistic], but reality doesn't match up, leaving you lingering in this huge gap of disappointment and frustration. i find myself here more often than not when it comes to a few areas of my life, and truthfully, i`m unsure how to break free from it.

as a server, i expect to be tipped.

at the risk of sounding overly confident, i am good at what i do. i genuinely care about the guests that walk in, i'm energetic, attentive, and, as a little girl said to her dad most recently as i walked away from the table, "so nice".

i work hard for my money.

but the reality is, for whatever reason, some people just don't tip, and instead of walking away proud of myself for the way in which i served, i walk away angry and frustrated, say my piece to whoever will listen, and move on to the next table.

i reached my maximum 'blow up' point the other night when i received three non tipping tables in a row, followed by a 14 cent tip on a $60.00 bill and a $3.00 tip on an $80. i walked away questioning why i do what i do, and seriously contemplated quitting. [please note: i usually only serve once a week and manage the rest, so i rely heavily on my tips to get me through certain weeks].

i expect people to tell the truth.

i've always been a straight shooter [with more tact nowadays, thankfully] so i've never understood lying. in fact, i lied once in 2007 and still think about it to this day. no joke.

i was standing with a group of my friends in college one day when one of them turns to me and says lous enough for everyone to hear, "paula, do you have any gum?"

of course i had gum - i always did - but i, knowing that i only had two pieces left, said, "no, sorry, i don't".

that was it. that was the lie that haunts me to this day, and will more than likely go to the grave with me.

does it really matter if someone lies about gum? meh, there are worse things in life. but what if someone you love and trust gets caught in a more serious one? i can't help but take it personally, and if i'm honest with myself, i don't know how not to.

i expect to lose weight.

ever since my dad passed away from a heart attack just over a year a go, i've been on this huge health kick. i started motivating myself using vi shakes, which worked wonders, and slowly started to change my eating habits since. most recently, i started going back to the gym and on monday i start kickboxing. aside from my cheat day each week, which i think we're all entitled to, i am quite disciplined with what goes into my mouth. and i have never felt more proud of myself.

but then i put the same pants on every day [well, not the exact same pair lol] and ... nothing. no progress whatsoever. it's as if i've hit this plateau; this grueling, frustrating plateau.

and lastly, i expect way too much from myself.

this probably doesn't surprise you after reading my 'i don't have any gum' story, but i'm way too hard on myself. even as i sit here and type out this vulnerable post, i see that. truthfully, my biggest frustration isn't the fact that people let me down [as i, too, let others down]; my biggest frustration lies in the fact that i let myself get so worked up about such petty things and take things way too personally.

people don't leave me crappy [or non existent] tips because i suck, nor do people lie to me for the same reason. people are simply human, and i`m just as human.

i so desperately want to be known as one who extends grace. to others, yes, but also to myself ... even, and especially, when i find myself stuck in the frustrating gap between expectation and reality.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

“man is a great wall builder
the berlin wall
the wailing wall of jerusalem
but the wall most impregnable
has a moat
flowing with fright
around his heart
a wall without windows for the spirit to breeze through
without a door for love to walk in.”
- oswald mtshali

it's scary how introverted i have become in the past little while. i've always treasured alone time, but lately i've been craving it way more than usual. maybe it's because my heart is surrounded by walls like the above poem states, or maybe, just maybe, i'm in need of a recharge. either way, holla for PAULAday. and PAULAtime. and PAULA.

but if i'm completely honest with myself, i have lonely moments, too. moments where i wish i could call up a friend and grab a coffee, or talk, or just show up at a friend's house like we did back in the day before the cell phones we heavily rely on existed.

it's a catch 22, really. i build walls up around my heart to prevent myself from getting hurt, and yet i'm dying for someone - anyone - to break them down.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

online dating update.

i'm considering changing what i've written in my profile to 'online dating tips for men'. [i'm sure there are some equally uneducated women out there, but they don't affect me]. based on experience, i would include the following tips at the very least:

1. don't use your prison photo as your profile picture. this is highly unattractive and scary.
2. you don't stand a chance with a name like 'mmmmmm' or 'hottemptation'. [tempted to delete you, maybe].
3. opening your initial conversation with things like 'hey baby - you're the one for me' or 'i want to marry you' have the words 'green card' written all over them.
4. sending me a picture of your chest will not inspire me to send you one of mine. [true story].
5. writing in caps makes me think you're yelling at me, and you're not allowed to be louder than me.
6. if you use the wrong your/you're, you're outta here.

needless to say, there hasn't been much progress since my last blog, but i still refuse to settle.

my battle with depression.

"each time i find myself flat on my face, i pick myself up and get back in the race ... that's life!" [frank sinatra]

some months are better than others, but this one knocked me off of my feet unexpectedly. i haven't felt that low/dark/isolated/hopeless in a while, but thankfully i'm on the mend and almost back to being me [even though 'this' is a part of me, too], and for those of you reading this who struggle with depression, you will be, too. keep fighting.

the blue jays.

i cannot express how happy my heart is to have my boys back. nor can i express how blessed i am to have a roommate who can get me half price tickets any time i want. i almost died when he told me that recently. [good thing i didn't though; half price tickets only benefit me when i'm alive].

until next time, friends.

Monday, March 18, 2013

it's been a while, i know. i've been busy moving, training at my new[er] job, dating, and trying to catch up on the sleep that i lost from all three. forgive me. [hi, michael].

my new digs.

i really lucked out here. i live within a ten minute walk from work, i pay next to nothing for what i get [a furnished room, 300 channels, unlimited wifi, in suite laundry, a gym, pool, basketball, squash and tennis courts etc, and an amazing and considerate roommate]. i've been here for just over two weeks now and can honestly say that it feels like home to me. it feels like homeeeeeeeee to me. [great. now i have that song in my head].

work.

i love managing such an amazing group of young people. i'm enjoying the challenge that comes with learning something new, and the 'break' i get when i get to serve tables [something i am naturally good at]. most guests, i find, are delightful, while some, not so much.

like the lady i served last night just before we closed.

"can i have a 7up?" [i bring her a 7up]. five minutes later, "can i change this to a pepsi?" as she hands me her glass. i take five steps toward the pop machine and she yells, 'no, an iced tea". i walk back to her to clarify. she tells me an iced tea with no ice. i proceed to get it for her. she calls me back and tells me rudely that she would like ONE iced cube in her drink. i gave her two. [accidently that is] ;)

of course, there are humourous guests also. [you'll get what i mean by humourous in a minute].

my conversation with a guest the other day went something like this:

me: are you ready for a great dinner?
her: "i have had gas all night and all day today, but i'm still here!" [you think i'm kidding].
[please note: i then later recommended the 'chocolate explosion" to her for dessert. [you better believe i did].

love my job.

dating life.

believe it or not, this area of my life has been more interesting than the above.

the guy i was seeing vanished a few days after he helped me move. now before you feel bad for me, i am more than okay with this as i, in all honestly, was only physically attracted to him. [i felt like the wolf in little red riding hood: "my, what big muscles you have"]. it was easy to protect my heart in such a relationship since he was moving to the states in a few months any ways.

since then, i have had quite the selection of 'men' come my way.

a few stated how i was the 'one for them' in their very first email to me. [does that really work on some women?]. one sent me a picture of his torso and got angry with me when he found out i had a male roommate [possessive much?]. so i did what any women would do. i sent him a picture of my roommate's chest instead of mine [which he requested]. just kidding. about the roommate's chest that is.

but. i have met a few great guys who i remain friends with, and a few who i am still 'getting to know'. stay tuned.

health.

for those of you who think i have a big mouth, think again. my last wisdom tooth came in and broke the tooth in front of it in order to make room. just recently the root has been exposed, causing me a great deal of pain. i have taken way too much advil and T3's for my liking, and pretty much downed a whole tube of orajel in the past two days. i've called dentist after dentist asking about payment plans as it cost $400 to get it pulled but all want the cash up front so i'm stuck with this is pain in the ... mouth [you thought i was going to say something else, didn't you?] for another week or so. other than that, i am amazing; eating well and taking advantage of the gym downstairs [which, by the way, is located through the door that is conveniently placed behind the hot security guard in my building].

life is good.

Friday, February 15, 2013

you can learn a lot from TV.

take undercover boss for example. below are four lessons i 'learned' from the last episode alone.

1) as stated in my last blog, appreciation goes a long, long way.

2) everyone has a story. get to know those you lead.

3) don't ever be 'too important' or 'too successful' to serve, or 'too good' to clean toliets.

4) and lastly, oversharing gets you everything you need.

i'm partially kidding here. but really, i can't help but laugh at some of the things people tell the one they're training after knowing them for all of an hour. it's like they know that the trainee isn't who they claim to be.

undercover boss: "what do you like to do in your spare time?"
employer: "i don't have spare time. my brother is sick and i have to take care of him" ... "i would love to go on [an all expense paid] trip to italy" ... "i've always wanted to own a BMW so i can cruise around in my spare time" etc. [those of you who have seen the show know what i'm talking about].

from now on, i'm oversharing. next time someone comes into work with a camera crew and claims to be on some reality show competition, i'm going to introduce myself as "paula - the one who pays $650 in rent each month, an $80 phone bill, and would die to throw the first pitch at a jays' game".

overshare for the win.

Friday, January 25, 2013

a little 'thank you' goes a long, long way.

i love doing laundry. well, letting the machines do it, that is. i'm not, however, a fan of folding it. i dread it, in fact. [kind of like how i'm a fan of showering, but not of the whole drying off/getting dressed process]. any ways, we all know that folding clothes is a necessary part of 'doing laundry', unless of course, you want everyone and their mother to buy you an iron for christmas.

i go downstairs to flip my laundry this morning, and to my surprise, there's a load of clean towels in the dryer. not knowing whose they were, and needing to use the dryer, i decided to fold them and leave them in a neat pile on top of the washing machine.

an hour later, i return, not only to find that my clothes had dried, but to notice a sticky note sitting on top of the dryer that read: 'thank you' with a heart on it.

i couldn't help but smile. all i did was take two minutes out of my day to fold a bunch of towels, and here i was being reminded that even the smallest of gestures can make the biggest of impacts.

i certainly wasn't expecting a thank you, but it goes to show you how far a little appreciation can go.

who can YOU thank today?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

about a month ago i picked up a book by the name of 'counterfeit gods' by tim keller. i began reading the book and instantly found myself captivated by the story of jacob. [genesis 25-50]. some of you know the story quite well.

so here he was, desperate to win his dad's approval to the point where he decides to deceive him into giving him his blessing. he then has to flee, losing everything, because his brother esau is after him, among other things.

then he looks to rachel, a beautiful woman, to fill the void that he feels.

and her sister, leah, looks to jacob, knowing he is in love with rachel, and tries to win his approval by bearing more of his children.

i put the book down, being reminded of the fact that only God can fill the void we all, at some time or another, look to fill.

ironically, a few days later, i find myself searching for other things to fill the void that i, too, feel, which led me into one of the darkest weeks of my life spiritually.

during this week, i had a dream. i was in battle - dressed in camlaflauge - the whole works. thinking i'd be less of a target by myself, i decided to leave the team i was with to fight on my own. i could hear them in the distance, and part of me wanted to go back and fight with them, but i couldn't bring myself to. eventually, i started losing the battle - almost lost my life a few times before rejoining my team by jumping into this nasty green, dirty water.

a few days later, a friend i used to go to school with asks me if i have had any dreams lately [randommmmmm], so i fill her in, and she feels like God interpreted it through her:

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So with just the information you've given me this is a spiritual warfare dream. He's calling you to not give up on the good fight of faith and especially not to try to lone it through this cause it can cost your life if you do. You are safer with others, you are empowered with others.

The fact that the water was nasty & green symbolizes your spirit. You're in a mucky place spiritually. But in this place you need to meet up with the fellow believers God has assigned to you.

Some of your questions may be 'Who & how?' To me if God is giving you not only understanding but strategy in this dream, it would be to pray and ask God to link you up & give you discernment as to where the team of people are that He has given you to fight along side of you and will journey with you and won't be afraid to meet with you in the dirtier places of your life.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

friends, she couldn't have been more bang on. i felt under attack and wanted to give up...again. i felt alone in my battle, and as a result, purposely shut myself out from the world.

from there, my friend tells me that i need to find out what i am wrestling others for, and wrestle God for it, 'just like jacob' did. [coincidence?].

i then get off the phone and decide to pick up the book i had neglected for weeks and BOOM - where does it pick up? the part where jacob wrestles God.

so i start doing some soul searching. what is it that i look for [wrestle for] in/from other people?

my conclusion? intimacy and connection ... which i believe only God can fill in its entirety, yet i continue to live differently at times.

the truth is, we all do. we all look to other things to fill the void in our lives. alcohol. sex. people. work. success. you name it. but like jacob, and leah, we eventually come to that place where we realize that these things that we experiment with/seek after/get into, leave us feeling empty.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

1) life is hard. laugh loud - and often.

2) i wonder if people would take the time to respond to my emails/letters if they knew how much heart and time i put into them. i get frustrated when people tell me to write to them and fill them in and don't even acknowlegde that i did when i do. now, i'm not unrealistic, i know people are busy and can't reply right away - i don't expect that - but when days and weeks go by i start wondering why i took the time out of my day to share my heart with them in the first place.

communication doesn't work when only one person does the communicating.

so do i continue to 'write on request'? or do i stop? this is something i've been wrestling with as of late.

3) bloom where you're planted.

i am happy to report that after five long months of unemployment, i am finally employed.

there are two industries that i am passionate about, if you will. one, working with youth and/or the poor, and bridging the gap between those two worlds, and two, the hospitality industry.

without knowing that they were hiring, i had an inkling to apply to a local boston pizza the other day. an hour later, i received a phone call, and the next morning, i headed in for an interview.

it went so well that she offered me the 1/2 management 1/2 server position on the spot. i start training tomorrow, and though i feel overwhelmed just looking at the gigantic menu and thinking about all that i have to learn, i told myself i would walk in there in confidence, study hard, and remember to breathe throughout the whole process. i'll be a pro in no time =)

i feel like i have been planted here purposely. even after a 20 minute interview, the manager told me that i 'inspire her to do more, and greater things with her life'. having gone over our conversation over and over since then, i honestly have no idea what i said/did to make her feel this way. there's no other explanation other than the fact that God was shining through me and used this comment to assure me that He has a plan and desires to use me where he places me. with that said, i sit here excited to be able to pour into the youth and young adults that i'll be working with, and the guests that will come in for a good meal.

another plus? because my hours are so flexible, i have the opportunity to jump on board with an organization by the name of 'souls of the feet' [www.soulsofthefeet.org]and do what i do best: connect people to various community projects and local service opportunities [homeless shelters, food banks etc], and potentially lead more teams overseas. [i think africa is calling my name...].

so here's to a new season, friends. [raises last glass of egg nog].