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I was interviewed “At the Table” with April Fiet!

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Believe it on not, there is something on my blog today! I know it’s been a while. Have you heard me talk about the amazing people I’ve met on twitter? Probably.  I’m so excited to tell you about one of those people: April Fiet. April and her husband co-pastor a church in Iowa. She does Karate, is super crafty and has a wonderful voice (nothing like me!!). However, we hold many of the same beliefs about the church, God and even parenting.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her, first online, and then through phone calls and emails.

Through this, I discovered that April has had a coach in the past and she shared how much it helped her. Coaching is often hard to explain and I always love to meet people who have experienced working with a coach.

When April offered to interview me about coaching I jumped at the chance to be on her fabulous blog.  You might already read her blog, and if you don’t – check it out!

Here’s a snippet of my interview:

What experiences led you to pursue coach training?

JH: As it is with most career changes, I can follow the journey back many years.  Upon graduating from seminary in 2005, I began working at a non-profit in the inner city of Vancouver.  I spent most of my time there hiring, training, and working with volunteers. I helped them figure out where they would fit in our organization, what they had to offer, and what they wanted to learn.

After nearly ten years, I was feeling ready to move on. Around this time, I went to a workshop with a good friend of mine and we began to chat over lunch with a former-pastor-turned-coach. My friend Dawn asked him more about coaching and, as he explained what it was, she looked at me and said, “Jane, this is what you should do next!”  I agreed!  My seminary degree, work at the non-profit, and (ironically?) ten years as a swim coach, had me interested. I began coaching school in Sept. 2012 and finished one year later.

Who do you coach?

JH: I work primarily with Christian women who are ready and willing to make a change in their lives. That change can be in their career, attitude toward something, health, relationships, etc. What I have found is that often times Christians who have grown up in the church have learned something that really limits them, or they have unconsciously and unhelpfully twisted something they grew up hearing. For example, they have been taught that pride is sinful but have twisted it into “I can’t admit what I’m good at or really own my talents because I will be prideful.” This can become incredibly difficult when applying for jobs or even choosing a career. I help to untwist these things while still honouring what they believe about their faith.  I’m happy to work with men or people of other faiths as well, but the majority of my clients are Christian women.

What benefits of coaching do you see?

– You can read the rest here

Being 99

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People who live to be 99 are remarkable by the sheer accomplishment of their age.  But my oldest friend, who turned 99 in February, is one of the most remarkable people I have ever known.  She is funny, smart, candid, loving and generous.  She taught me about the importance of an ecumenical faith and to never doubt ‘young people.’  When you are 99, almost everyone seems to fit into the category of “young people” but perhaps she was teaching us about trusting each other!  Though I met Pauline through my involvement with the non-profit, she founded, I like to think that our paths first intersected in 1976.

In 1976 I was born (so, that’s a start) and my friend Pauline felt called to start spending most of her days in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. This is a neighbourhood, usually described as “the poorest postal code in Canada” but I much prefer my friend Helen’s description, “a neighbourhood wrought with poverty and rich in community.” It’s a neighbourhood filled with people caught both in addiction and often untreated mental health struggles. Pauline’s story is woven into the lives of hundreds of residents on the Downtown Eastside even though it’s not the place you would expect a well coifed 60 year-old woman to be wandering around by choice.

Pauline, trying to be nothing other than herself, spent 25 years making friends in the local bars and hotels or as we love to say “doing a pub crawl.” Drinking 7-Up or tea, Pauline would sit and visit with people and pray for them on their turf. And when times got tough, she would also visit people in the hospital or prison. She became well known and loved by all the regulars. Pauline wasn’t trying to ‘get people saved’ so she could check them off her list, but she loved Jesus and would talk about him sometimes.

She sat and chatted with drug dealers, prostitutes, lonely old men and girls she knew were too young to be on their own almost daily for 25 years.  At the age of 85, she asked God what he wanted her to do with her life (bold for 85, eh?). She felt like God asked her to give away her inheritance. Pauline was confused because she was living on a pension and spending her days drinking tea in the inner city. Money was not something she had a lot of!

But God revealed to her that money was not her inheritance – instead it was all the friendships she had made in the neighbourhood.  The faces of John, Rob, Susan, Jeanette, and more flashed before her eyes. She was reminded of the bartenders who would clear a spot for her and the men who would open the door for her as she came in to sit and be with people. These friendships were what was to be given away. People, created and loved by God, were a gift to Pauline and one she  was meant to  share. She felt compelled to find others who loved God and loved the DTES – people who would receive this gift and tend to these friendships.

In June 2001, Pauline and a few friends opened the doors of the storefront at 239 Main Street and began a ministry based on loving people of the Downtown Eastside well. As my friend Joyce used to say, “she didn’t come to fix or save but to love.”  Jacob’s Well is where I, and many others, met Pauline. Her story was passed down to us and we pass it on to others.

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Jacob’s Well – Photo by Marion Luttenberger

I finished almost ten years at Jacob’s Well in May 2013 but I continued to visit Pauline.  She stopped doing the pub crawl a few years ago and now we go and visit her. I saw her two weeks ago, in a grey, small hospital room,  and she was very frail, tired and quiet. Although when we put her glasses on she recognized us, we barely recognized her. Her perfectly done old lady hair was messy and unattended to. Her spunk and wit were hidden under the layers of blankets keeping her thin body warm. My friend Dawn and I knew it was time for Pauline to die.  There is something profound about this feeling of readiness, maybe because it feels so rare. So many deaths seem like robbery – too soon! too young! too fast! But with Pauline, the opposite is true:  She is 99 and ready to die and we are ready to let her go.  Her inheritance of friendship has been given away,  and her legacy of love will continue. Go in peace my friend.

** During the weeks between my writing this piece and posting it, Pauline passed away with her family and a few close friends nearby. We rejoice together in her life and in her death. For those of you in Vancouver we will celebrate her life on April 25th from 2-4pm at St. James Anglican Church.

 

A Fabulous Risk

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I’m joining up with my friend Cara’s synchro-blog about friendship today. Be sure to check out her fabulous blog and see the other great posts.

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I wouldn’t call myself risk-averse but I’m not living life on a high wire.  People would describe me as stable and dependable – you know the type. One of my life mottos (it’s really more of a theme than a slogan) is about doing less things for longer instead of trying something new every year. I’ve been in the same city for 13 years, the same swim team for 10 etc. I don’t completely avoid risky endeavours but I’m not seeking them out either. Hence, the friendship I’ve chose to write about is rather ironic – it was risky!

Dane and I had been happily married for about a year and half. He was in seminary and I was working  at a small faith-based non-profit.  At my work we talked about community non-stop. There were community houses within our community (did you see that, I just used the word twice in one sentence). Homes filled with mainly single people set on sharing common meals, a chore wheel and their lives. One house came together, rotated roommates and then fell apart.  One such break-up resulted in Rachel, a volunteer at my work, suddenly needing a place to live.  I had interviewed, hired and trained Rachel to be a volunteer but I wouldn’t say we were friends.

I enjoyed her spunk, her southern charm (Georgia!) and the fact that her personality was not typical of our volunteers. Our little grassroots non-profit attracted a lot of bleeding heart artists that lovingly just wanted to “be with the people.” This was a wonderful group to be around but there was actual stuff to get done as well. Rachel was efficient and loved to purge and organize. She would come in and just have at it – filing, labelling, sweeping, whatever she could find. Some might describe her as a friendly, well dressed, administrative force to be reckoned with.

I was telling my husband Dane about the community houses and that Rachel was looking for a new place. He just blurted out, as he often does, an idea that completely surprised me.  “What if Rachel lived with us?” We weren’t exactly living in a big community house with lots of people. We were practically newlyweds in a 2 bedroom apartment. Talk…about….risky. “Hey, woman from your work, that we barely know, want to come live in our apartment with us?”

Like I said, I wasn’t running from risks but I also wasn’t looking for them. I took a deep breath and realized that I loved the idea.

Dane tried the idea on with a co-worker he respected. He quickly shot the idea to pieces. He told Dane he was crazy and said, “You and Jane have something so great – why the hell would you want to ruin it with this crazy idea?” He went on, albeit with good intentions, to stridently persuade us to keep things simple – just the two of us. Our families were slightly more polite but equally surprised.

Despite everyone’s uncertainty we offered our second bedroom to Rachel. She seemed thankful and quickly continued to look at her options. Rachel could have afforded to rent her own apartment. She could have guaranteed herself personal space and her own bathroom (something I now know she really likes).  But fairly quickly, she too decided to take this risk and move in with us.

Rachel thrived on order and aesthetic. Once the boxes were in her room it was only a matter of hours before it looked like an antique museum. It was complete with scarves the hung on a vintage seamstress mannequin, a little glass vase collection on her shabby chic dresser and a handmade quilt.

It didn’t take much time to realize that our mutual risk provided us with nothing short of fabulous. Rachel, Jane and Dane were a hit! Rachel and I made ‘clean out the fridge’ quesadillas and drank white wine. Rachel and Dane would watch the movies I didn’t want to watch. Did I mention she cleaned the kitchen beyond my wildest dreams?

Of course we had typical roommate struggles. One day she asked us if we could ‘maybe, perhaps, tidy up the shoes at the front door’ because the pile was getting unruly. The next time she came home she couldn’t get the door open because we dumped every pair of shoes we had at the front door. Oops.

This risky move brought someone intimately into our lives. We now know Rachel better than any other friend and she was the first friend we made together. She helped us live through the hardest time of our life (as explained in this fake Ted talk: I Almost Died, So Why Am I Laughing?) and was at the birth of our first son.

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Eventually Rachel wanted more space to herself as diapers, strollers and baby stuff took over our little apartment. We understood and she promised to come over often.

There is still no one that Dane and I consider a friend like we do Rachel.  Good news/bad news she eventually got married TO A GUY FROM NEW ZEALAND (Hi Andrew, I don’t think you read my blog but we love you and try not to hold this against you!) It gives us something to save for (we are coming for you Rach!) and a trip to take when we are feeling even braver than we did when we invited her in (i.e 14+ hours with 2 kids).

I’m sure the trek half way around the world will result in nothing short of fabulous as well.

(cover photo credit: Beth Malena)