Tyler? And Other Notable Moments of Thankfulness

I have lots to update you on but today, I’ll just focus on my thankful list!

  1. My cats are gaining weight. This is good news because a) they are too skinny, and b) I love fat cats.
  2. I’m onto the second module of my legal assistant course about litigation. It’s really interesting! I don’t know why I never took law in high school. I should’ve. I took Social Studies instead because the teacher was known for being extremely relaxed and I wanted an easy credit. We watched a loooooooot of war movies. To be fair, I was and still am completely okay with the amount of movies we watched. Then I had social studies with a different teacher who was much harder and — this is awful, I’m not proud of this — but it was the only class I’ve ever cheated on a test in. It was about the French Revolution. My friend, Amanda (who is now a pharmacist), passed me a note with an answer on it. I don’t even think it was a helpful answer but if I were teaching that class, and I caught myself cheating, I would’ve docked myself marks (because that’s what I do now). To this day, I still don’t know what happened in the French Revolution. Even tried to watch a t.v. show about it on Netflix but it totally didn’t help because it was about zombies. So I guess I’ll never know. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is I really wish I took law or Indigenous Studies or something. I could’ve gotten some useful information out of that. But even though I didn’t, I’m thankful because the teacher in my legal assistant course starts from the very beginning and explains how the provincial courts work and it’s REALLY helpful.
  3. I’ve been trying to figure out what I’m going to do with this blog and what my next steps will be after my teaching contract is done this year. I’ve been praying for some direction from the Lord on where to go, what to do and how to get rolling. And I think He’s given me a bit of a plan… I need to talk to some more people to hear their thoughts and pray about it some more before I share it with you but I really do think something new is on it’s way. If I’m on to something and God is leading me into something new, then I’m really grateful. Scared but grateful and looking forward to what He’s going to do.
  4. Also, I asked the Lord for advice on a couple of difficult situations. Do I say something? Do I let it go? And He led me to the perfect passage in the bible! I don’t have the energy to write about it all right now but I’m thankful that He gave me permission to let it go and pass right through 🙂
  5. Long story short — I think I’m being pranked by a guy named Tyler (???) This is what I know: a) He likes pickles; b) He’s witty; c) He’s not my dad; d) He describes himself as a 90 year old man but he doesn’t sound like a 90 year old man; e) He does dishes; f) He uses semi-colons properly in text messages; g) If you text him punctuation, like, just a period, he responds with more punctuation; h) He’s not one of my students; i) He’s like a bookeeper for old people but not really… or something??? I don’t really get it; k)He’s new to theology. Wants to become Greek Orthodox. I’m trying to talk him into the Reformation. No response on that one yet; j) Likes philosophy, theology, and is in a heavy metal band but they aren’t very good (his words, not mine); k) He has a really strong Canadian accent; l) At this point, he hasn’t requested pictures or money; m) Wants to know if I’m happy in life. Am I where I want to be?… … Is it weird to be thankful for a mystery? At first I was really stressed out about the whole thing and asked one of my principals to run these numbers to make sure it wasn’t a student or a parent (it wasn’t). It took me awhile but I think I’m piecing it together now. If I’m right (it’s highly possible I’m wrong), then I’m thankful for this mystery. If I’m wrong, then I’m thankful for the laughs he brought me.
  6. I’ve slept so well on this break. I mean, I had a couple of nightmares but fell right back to sleep again and napped a couple times in the afternoon. I’m thankful for rest.
  7. I’m thankful for days where I don’t have to wear a mask.
  8. I’m thankful for ways to stay busy while working from home.
  9. I’m thankful for Epsom salts.
  10. I’m thankful for male pharmacists that you can ask embarrassing questions about your vagina. I was nervous about talking with a dude about it but he was like, it’s fine. I told him what was happening and he gave me some good advice. He knows more about my vagina then I do! I’m so thankful for knowledgable pharmacists!

Scattered Blessings

Things I’m thankful for:

I realized a couple days after I posted my last list that I misused the word ‘palpable.’ (Ei. “… toning down ‘The Jesus’ to be more palpable to others…”) I meant to say, “palatable” but the mistake made me laugh. I was trying so hard to be smart and articulate! So much for that!

I have good principals and vice principals who have mentored me through some difficult situations. Those situations aren’t over yet but I’m grateful for the admin’s support and mentorship. They have modeled humility, character and self-discipline in situations that should/would/could bring out the worst in others. It’s rare in my world to find this kind of maturity and I appreciate it so much when I find it.

My church has started to support a ministry called, Careportal, which links churches with families, especially kids in foster care. It allows us to help fill needs and offer support. I’m so grateful that I get to be apart of it and help get it rolling. It’s still new in Regina but I’m praying there will be more opportunities soon.

I put on makeup today because we’re doing virtual learning and I don’t have to wear a mask. At first, I thought I looked okay and more like “myself.” But after awhile I thought I looked yellow and gross. So I washed it all off, moisturized and felt better. I’ve still got scarring and redness. When I washed everything off today, I felt so much better. Which is, like, whoa. I never say that. Sometimes I put on a bit of concealer or powder to help with the acne scars and redness but not as often or as much as I used to. This is the first time I’ve been able to say I prefer myself with less makeup. I’m grateful for that moment.

Healing skin. Healing heart.

I finished the book of Numbers in the bible. Here are my takeaways:

God appreciates accountants and financial advisors. I do, too. Especially around tax time.

King Og refuses to let Moses and the Israelites pass through their territory, even though Moses told them they wouldn’t take anything or stop for water. They just need to get through the territory to get to the Promised Land. But King Og refused and attacked the Israelites when they least expected it. But the Israelites fought back against their enemies and won. They occupied the land for awhile before moving on (Numbers 21:24). They continued to overcome and conquer each of the cities. King Og wasn’t about to give up and tried to attack them again. The Lord told Moses to not be afraid. He basically gave Moses the permission to fight. This means something to me because I often crumple in the face of opposition or intimidation. But God doesn’t allow the Israelites to cower. He tells them to face it and He will give them victory. That gave me a lot of courage.

In Numbers 22-24, there’s whole other storyline that takes place where the King of Moab is intimidated by the Israelites and decides the best way to fight back is to hire Balaam to curse his enemies (which is totally true of human nature. If people think they can’t win against you, they will tear down your reputation with gossip and slander. You don’t need a prophet to do damage like that. We’re all capable of it). The Israelites and Moses don’t have a talking part. It’s sort of like another version of events but from the enemies point of view. Which is so unique and bizarre. Why have the enemies version of events in a story about God and His people? I’m still trying to figure out how Balaam, a prophet, got involved with the enemies in the first place. I don’t think he’s an Israelite but maybe he belongs to one of the 12 tribes… I don’t know. Probably over thinking it but the story is so different and out of the blue! Anyway, throughout the story, you see God working behind the scenes in the narrative of the Israelites’ enemies. How He protects them and positions the right people at the right time to bless His people rather than curse. Balaam describes God as this wild ox fighting for His people. It’s one of my favourite descriptions of God. Wild. Territorial. Bad-ass. It’s hard to imagine He’s these things when you’re in the heat of a difficult situation but reading a story like this helps me walk by faith and not by sight.

When the Israelites finally get to the Promised Land, God establishes a couple places called Cities of Refuge. It’s mostly for refugees or foreigners who are living in the Promised Land permanently or temporarily. In addition to this, it’s also a place where people who accidentally kill someone can go if they need to get away from the relative who wants revenge for the death of their family member. You can stay there till the High Priest dies and then you can go back to your home city. Which is kind of weird. Wouldn’t you want to wait till the person who wants revenge dies? That seems more logical. I’ll have to research that and figure out why. Anyway, I love this passage about God’s law because even in situations where errors are made, God commands that the public rule in favour of the person who made the mistake. Not the one who wants revenge. I was so encouraged by that because I make mistakes all the time. God is still merciful and protects people who make mistakes.

I’m so grateful for what I have right now. To have food in my belly. To have an apartment. To have running water. To have electricity and heat. To have a family. To have technology. To have books. To have windows where the sun can come in. To have clean drinking water… There’s so much to be thankful for. At any point, I could lose it. Satan could throw me back into poverty and God, in spite of all His powerfulness, could let it happen. If that day comes sooner rather than later, I’d like to be able to say that I didn’t take all that I have now for granted. My earnest prayer is that I’ll be able to say that Jesus is enough for me and I trust Him even through this. I don’t know how I’ll be able to say it yet truthfully yet but will continue to pray for that kind of courage and faith.

A friend suggested (without realizing it) a new name for my blog. I need to think about it but like the possibilities. More on that later 😉

That Kill Spirit: What I’m Learning in the Bible

As you may or may not know, I’m a Christian and I write about what I’m learning on here. I’m not as consistent in it as I could be and part of it is because every time I do, something bad happens. So it’s like I have to brace myself every time I talk about my faith because a wave of Bad Things is surely on its way. Which is a totally pessimistic thing to say but very true.

But here I am again, writing about my faith and I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps it’s because I’ve tried to tone down “the Jesus” to make myself more palpable to people around me but it doesn’t really matter. Whether I talk about my faith or not, someone always has something to criticize. So I might as well just be myself. Plus, I’m really craving some thing I can hold onto. Theories or books about Christian living are nice but they don’t compare to the real thing. I feel much more satisfied after some time reading the bible. Is that dumb? Maybe. Will people make fun of me for it? Probably. But it is what it is and we each have a quirk. The Lord is mine.

Here’s what I’m learning:

  1. I think one of the reasons John (as in the writer of the gospel of John) refers to himself in third person, specifically “the beloved disciple” is because he genuinely believes he’s loved. He’s not saying the other disciples aren’t loved. He’s just so firm in his identity of love that he can’t really separate himself from that reality. He sees himself the way Jesus does. For example, have you ever had a friend who just got a boyfriend or girlfriend and they can’t stop talking about that person? And you’re just like, PLEASE STOP. WE GET IT. YOU’RE IN LOVE. SOMEBODY LOVES YOU. YOU’RE A CUT ABOVE THE REST OF US EARTHLINGS. YOU DON’T HAVE TO SAY IT EVERY SECOND OF EVERY DAY. But you don’t actually say that to their face, you just keep it to yourself and remind yourself to check your attitude… Have you ever had that happen? I think John is like that. He sounds cocky and annoying and selfish but he’s none of those things. He’s just in love. It’s an incredibly personal kind of love. When you’re in love, you want to tell everybody. You don’t care how you sound. You don’t care if you look silly. You don’t even care what other people think about because… why? You’re loved and that’s all that matters. John leads by example there, perhaps without even meaning to. He’s just himself.
  2. On the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks about the beautitudes. In the translation I use, the Good News Translation, (people poo-poo on it but it was given to me by my cousin who helped me get on track in my faith so it feels like home. Anyway…), Jesus says two things that fascinate me. In Matthew 5:6, He says, “Happy are those whose greatest DESIRE is to do what God requires (a.k.a. whatever is right or just) ; God will satisfy them.” . Then later, He says, “Happy are those who are persecuted because they DO what God requires; the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them!” I guess I learned that God honours both the desire to do what is right and the actual doing of it! It doesn’t matter if someone’s ahead of you in this journey or if another person is just getting started. Jesus doesn’t see it that way. It’s all progress.
  3. To go along with the beautitudes, we are blessed when we mourn because that means we had a loving relationship. We loved and someone loved us. And isn’t being loved something to be happy about? 🙂

I could write more but it’s getting late and need to go to bed so I’m ready for whatever hits me in the face tomorrow…

That was a little negative and it reminded me of one more thing I wanted to write down.

Awhile back I watched a documentary called “20 Feet From Stardom” all about background singers of rock bands and Motown. In one of the interviews, Darlene Love was talking about this “kill spirit.” How you gotta have that “kill spirit” to make it in that business. That drive, determination and perseverance to make it. She was referring to making it as a solo singer, rather than a back up. I see the kill spirit a little differently. She still is driven, determined and perseveres but she looks a lot like the woman the writer writes about in Proverbs 31. She’s practical, creative, financially responsible, entreprenuerial, extremely independent, but still loves her husband and lets him know it, loves her family, is optimistic about the future, almost laughs at challenges that come her way because she trusts the God that will get her through them. She’s totally fearless about the future. She’s got that kill spirit.

I need some of whatever she’s got.

Bucket Fillers: A Thankful List

  1. I’m thankful it’s the first day of spring. Even if it’s cloudy and windy. I like spring more than any other season because it’s new and fresh. People come out from their apartments and their houses, squinting at the sun. In no time, we’re all a little giddy from all the vitamin D. Maybe everything is muddy and gross but I don’t care. The snow is melting and it’s a new start.
  2. I spent the afternoon on a deck with an old friend and her family. We hadn’t seen eachother in years and we picked up right where we left off. You’d think we just saw each other last week. I love friendships like that. It was a perfect pick-me-up.
  3. I’m thankful for a job. Who know’s if I’ll survive this year. Maybe I’ll die or maybe I’ll fail or maybe my employer won’t hire me back but I’m going to keep trying and doing the best I can. I’m grateful for something to do and an income.
  4. I’m thankful for this little kiddo who gave me a hug (physical distancing is extrememly difficult to navigate with little people). I’m literally the worst at comforting people who are crying and was in such a cranky mood that day so I was surprised when she came for a hug. She drew a picture of her and I going for a walk and then put BOB’s name on the pic. I asked her who that was. She laughed and said, I dunno. It didn’t make sense but I thought it was kind of funny, too. All the chaos of the day, week, year was all worth it after a hug from this kid who may have needed it more than me.
  5. I’m thankful all my physical needs are met. I have everything I need and way, way more.
  6. Last night, some friends and I played Sporcle online. It was a nice way to end the week.
  7. Today, I texted a friend I haven’t seen in awhile to say hi. She told me some great news. She and her husband were reconciled! Even though things aren’t perfect, they are healing together. She’s got a much better job and is in a better situation than before. I love stories about reconciliation and restoration. They give me the warm fuzzies.
  8. Maybe I’m not loved by everyone but I’m thankful for the ones that do. When I count the people who care for me, regardless of how big or small the number is, the people who love me mean more than the people who don’t. Maybe one day, all those people will hate me, too, but for now they don’t and I’m grateful for that.
  9. I started dreaming again today. Maybe I’ll achieve my dreams or maybe I won’t but I’m grateful to remember what it feels like to dream.
  10. I’m grateful to be single. Sometimes it’s lonely but then I spend some time with people and feel much better. Maybe one day, I’ll fall in love again but even if I don’t, I know I’ll be okay. If anyone was made to be single it would be me. Like, sometimes I wonder if I’m a little on the spectrum because of how much I love to spend time alone. It’s my favourite thing. Over a month ago, I went to a marriage conference to see what marriage was really like and the problems people face. It’s beautiful in many ways but it’s also really hard. I left that conference half-wanting to be married and half-grateful that I’m not. Being single isn’t the worst thing in the world. It can actually be quite nice and at this moment, I’m grateful for this time. Maybe tomorrow I won’t be but today I am so I’m going to soak it up.

Thankful List of Overcoming

Haven’t made a thankful list in awhile. I’m colouring my hair and have a couple minutes before I wash it out. Here’s a little list of things I’m thankful for:

  • We’re over halfway through the school year. It has been challenging in so many ways but we’re almost there. Almost at the summit. Still got a ways to go but I’m so grateful to have made it this far. God has been looking out for me in so many ways. I don’t think I’d get very far without Him… I’m so, so, so grateful for this and for Him.
  • I began a legal assistant course last year. It has three modules: conveyancing, criminal and civil. I finished conveyancing at the end of February and got 80% on the exam! This is a big deal because I started and stopped so many times. Couldn’t tell if I was doing the course because I had a crush on a lawyer or because I was bored or wanted to run away from being a teacher or because I have a genuine goal in mind. I think it was all of them. I got distracted and discouraged. I was dreading studying for it because I didn’t think I could. I talked myself out of it before I even gave it try! Same thing with audio transcription. I tried to do it for an internship I had with a film company and got so discouraged because I couldn’t keep up. But this audio transcription is so much slower and easier to understand! I still have a lot to go on the course but I’m getting there. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get it all done before next year!!
  • Supper with my dad. Movies with him too. We watched New High, a doc about addicts who climb Mt. Rainier as apart of their treatment. It’s through this place called Urban Gospel Mission in Seattle. It was so inspiring and well done. I mean, I thought so at least.
  • Dad found one of my mom’s necklaces and gave it to me. It’s a beaded thing. We’re not Indigenous so I don’t know where Mom got it from but it’s so pretty.
  • I had some really challenging things happen a while back and Jesus got me through it. It was humbling. Teaching is very humbling. But I’m grateful because I’m still standing and still here.

I need to wash my hair now. Good night!

End of Black History Music Appreciation Unit: Resources Included

Here’s a quick update on how we, the class and I, are completing our BIPOC Music History Unit.

The last time I wrote about the primary kids, I told you how we were learning about Scott Joplin, the King of Ragtime. I was thinking about doing an inquiry type lesson so they could research him and get to know him better. When I posed the question, “If Scott Joplin was here with us right now, what would you ask him?” Most of them really wanted to know how he died. I didn’t have the answer at the time so I researched it later and found out that he got syphilis and lived out the remainder of his days in a mental institution where he eventually died and buried in an unmarked grave with two or three other people. Soooooo. I didn’t know how to tell the kids and thought maybe I could steer them away from it if we stayed on the search engine for kids called, “Kiddle.” I couldn’t find any info on there of how he died so I thought that would be safe. But I could just see someone accidentally going onto Google and being scarred for life. It was too risky and I decided to completely evade the topic by steering towards a ragtime dance and asked them to create one of their own. I’ve attached the assignment below. It’s a checklist with the various elements of dance and expectations for group work. I got many of my ideas for it from the book, “Building Dances: A Guide to Putting Movements Together” By Susan McGreevy Nichols, Helen Scheff and Marty Sprague. You can find it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.ca/Building-Dances-2nd-Susan-McGreevy-Nichols/dp/0736050892

It’s not a perfect handout. I think it’s too comprehensive for primary kids. Some teachers come up with all these pretty borders and graphics and the kids just love it. Mine are pretty plain and too wordy. Maybe one day when the pandemic is over, I’ll edit the handout and make it more kid-friendly. For now, it served it’s function and I’m grateful for that. It wasn’t a perfect unit and the kids are still getting an understanding for movements and how to put them together. However, many of them put their best effort forward and they came up with some unique ideas. They understood my expectionations and many of them used their time wisely. Chaotically but wisely. Even though the dances weren’t their strongest work, many of them enjoyed themselves and that means more to me. For that reason, I do feel like it was a success.

The other resource I used with my kindergarteners and grade 1/2’s was this one from Teachers Pay Teachers https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Black-History-Month-Music-Literacy-Bundle-6488673

I find it hard to find free stuff in arts ed and because I’m still a new teacher but many teachers do. I’m trying to build up my repertoire of resources. This felt like a good investment and saved me a lot of time. It came with some handouts about different artists like Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, etc. The resource is paired up with books but it’s not mandatory. Our library didn’t have them but we could still glean a lot of out of it without the books. The slides are already made up and there are a couple handout ready to go.

Finally, for my middle year kids, I followed this resource https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Black-History-Month-Music-Appreciation-Worksheets-Bundle-5190891

This took music theory to a whole new level for me and at times, I didn’t know was some of the terminology was. But it was very helpful for introducing different artists. I printed out various info on Duke Ellington, Etta James and Dizzy Gillespie from the bundle. The only thing I would caution you on is that the links in the resource will lead you to a Youtube video. The videos are informative and historical but they were not all created by BIPOC people so the tone is different. I watched them on my own first but didn’t realize how the tone would affect some of the BIPOC kids and so we had to talk about the videos and where the creators/producers/whoever went wrong and how. The bundle on Teachers Pay Teachers didn’t have the same passive aggressive tones or power struggle, or at least I didn’t sense any. The BIPOC kids might see it differently but I thought it was really strong and honoured the BIPOC community. Whoever created this, loves jazz and has a lot of respect for the BIPOC community. In the bundle was some info on the the genre of jazz or blues each artist influenced. I had them come up with their own test questions and answers. I’ll create a study worksheet from what they give me and build a test off the Q & A’s they gave me.

So yeah, that’s basically the end of that unit. The middle year kids still need to write the quiz but we’re moving onto our next unit.

To be honest, it’s been a tough go. I feel like I’d lose my head if it weren’t for the fact it’s attached to my body. Like every year is tough because we’re faced with new challenges. Which is a good thing because who wants to be stuck on one problem for years and years and years? When you’re faced with new challenges year after year it means you’re growing. So that’s good thing. I’m grateful to be here, to have a job and spend time with kids. Many of them are enthusiastic and do their best even if it’s out of their comfort zone. Because of the pandemic, the restrictions and various other challenges, it’s extremely limiting. Like, I feel like the majority of what I’m trying to do with the curriculum is find thirty different uses for an imaginary stick and a piece of paper. How many ways can we use this stick and piece of paper (which is just a bunch of soggy sticks, mashed, dried and flattened) and keep ourselves entertained for the next ~ ~ months? If it weren’t for the kids and their enthusiasm for anything and everything, I don’t think we’d get nearly as far as we have. I’m extremely grateful for them, even on bad days. It’s not their fault. I have a lot of growing to do, too, but on the days where I see them trying and doing the best they can in spite of it all, I’m very, very grateful.

Elisha’s Battle Plan

I promise to fill you in on how I’m finishing Black Music History Units with the kids. Been putting it off for awhile now but I want to share something I learned today.

This evening, I took part in a bible study over Zoom with some people I met through Instagram.  It was nice to meet new people. The topic they focused on was spiritual warfare, what it is, how can we get through it and why it’s important we recognize that it’s a legit thing.

Usually when I think of spiritual warfare I think of the bible passage in Ephesians 6: 10-18. But tonight the leader led us to a different passage I haven’t read yet about Elisha in 2 Kings 6:8-22.

There’s a war happening and the Syrians are preparing an ambush against Israel. Elisha is a prophet who- from what I understand- is like the understudy of Elijah, another prophet before he was taken up to heaven. Elisha is really tight with the King of Israel (KoI) and tells him about the ambush. KoI tells the people and they are ready for them. It doesn’t sound like there was a massive battle when they got there but I think the King of Syria (KoS) really thought he had the KoI duped. So when the village was ready for them, he was so pooped.

So KoS says to his army, “Hey! Which one of you has been tipping off KoI?” And the guys are like, “None of us. Elisha, the prophet, knows what you say in the privacy of your room.”

KoS is super pissed about this and decides to kidnap Elisha. His men find out Elisha is in the city of Dothan and they surround it. Elisha’s servant wakes up the next day to see they are trapped. He’s like, “We’re doomed!!! What are we going to do?!?!?!”

Elisha’s like, “Don’t panic. We’ve got more people on our side than they do on theirs.” The servant didn’t understand so Elisha prayed that God would open his eyes. God did and the servant saw the entire hillside covered with chariots of fire and horses!

The Syrians couldn’t see them either so they began their attack. Elisha prayed God would blind them. He did. Elisha, keeping his identity a secret, says to the blind Syrian army, “You’re going the wrong way. I’ll take you to the man you are looking for. You’re in the wrong city.”

Elisha leads them to Samaria where the King of Israel was. He asks God to open their eyes and find out they were led straight into the hands of their enemy, the Israelites. The king sees them and wants to know if he should kill them. Which, I can’t tell if he’s asking that out of respect for God and Elisha or because he’s hesitant and doesn’t want to kill them. The reason I say that is because Elisha says, “Nah. You couldn’t kill men you captured in battle. Give them some food and drink and let them go back to their king.” So KoI prepares this massive feast, feeds his enemies and sends them home. The Syrians didn’t try raiding Israel again.

There are a couple of things I take away from this story:

1. God is working behind the scenes, even if I’m the servant who can’t see the full picture.

2. Mercy triumphs over hate. You can win a long-standing battle by extending mercy.

3. I admire Elisha’s faith and trust in God. His confidence that God will deliver him and protect him. He wasn’t afraid of what he was facing.

4. You can be merciful but clever and strategic in how you deal with your enemies. Prayer is key in defending against attacks and moving forward to push the intimidation back.

5. Sometimes your enemies are stuck in a bind; it’s their job to do what their king tells them to, too. It doesn’t excuse the sin but it does help humanize them and in turn, empathize and feed them.

What are some of your takeaways?

Conquerable Mountains: Bedtime Thoughts

I remember reading a book by Jon Krakauer called Eiger Dreams. It’s a collection of short stories about mountain climbing. He describes the sport as this addiction. Once you climb one you start planning the next almost immediately. I don’t know if I’d make a good mountain climber but I love, love, love reading stories or watching movies about it. The courage, determination, risk, planning, athleticism, ambition, the life-and-death scenarios, the friendships, and pushing yourself to the limit — everything about it just screams inspiration to me.

This weekend I watched a documentary called “Meru.” It’s about these three mountain climbers: Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk, who planned an expedition to the mountain Meru in India. It’s known as one of the hardest mountains to climb. Harder than Mount Everest and no one, not even the best mountain climbers in the world, have been able to reach the top. Like, not even Conrad’s mentors were able to reach the top and they were the best of the best.

Anyway, these guys are determined to get to the top. I won’t give it [all] away but their stories are incredible. The things they’ve survived! On their first trip they were stuck on the side of the mountain in a tent for something like four days because of a storm. Four days stuck in a tent! Can you imagine?! They barely had any food rations left and still wanted to try and get to the top. They were so determined! Even after a major setback that threw them off by four days! They still tried to summit and they were so close but the timing was off. They had to turn around and go back. They were crushed and in really rough shape. Full of frost bite and foot rot.

The documentary goes on to tell more of their story and the things they’ve survived on other expeditions. Renan got a severe head wound from a skiing trip that left him paralyzed. He was so determined to get back to Meru, that he spent all his time and energy into recovery so he could join the next expedition.It seemed like all his odds were stacked against him but he did it. He was strong enough for the second go. Jimmy survived a massive avalanche. No one knew how he survived but he describes this moment where he was fully buried in snow. There was a shift beneath him that seemed to push him closer to the surface and he was able to pull himself out. Not one broken bone. Then Conrad — who’s climbed Everest four times — tells these stories of loss and survivor’s guilt.

One of the things I took away from that movie was how determined they were. Maybe a little stupid but determined and razor-sharp focused on the goal of summitting. Getting to the top. They didn’t let grief or guilt get the better of them. They didn’t live in fear of the next avalanche or brain injury or failure get in the way. They weren’t so traumatized by their bad experiences that it kept them from trying again. They pushed through all the pain of exhaustion, altitude sickness, frostbite and fear to get to the top.

I don’t know what you’re facing but I’ve got a couple mountains that I want to summit. Maybe I’ll get trampled by an avalanche. Maybe I’ll get crushed and die like Conrad’s friends. Or maybe — by some miracle — I’ll survive like Jimmy, and keep climbing. Or maybe I’ll suffer a bad blow that will throw me off my feet for a couple months. But maybe I’ll be able to recover like Renan and keep climbing. And maybe one day, I’ll plan to summit my impossible mountain. Maybe I’ll be prepared this time. Pace myself and plan for the challenge ahead. Stay focused, push through and keep climbing. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll finally summit my unconquerable mountain.