Dear 2020

When we think about 2020 years from now there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the first word that we might all be reminded of is coronavirus or COVID-19. You’ve (2020) descended upon us with the same jolly smiles on new year’s day only to completely shatter any notion of expectation of what the year ahead may turn out to be. How it continues to be. But we would all be remiss if we didn’t see the flip side. You gave us many gifts, one of which is compelling us to be still. Surfacing the things we value most. Rooting us in the comforts of our homes. Challenging us to develop a grateful heart despite of it all. And humbling us to hope for something bigger than ourselves because in the grand scheme of things, we’re really not that important. 

Reflecting on the last couple of days of 2020, the word that comes to my mind is forgiveness. It took me 28 years of existence to notice that forgiveness is actually made up of 3 words – ‘for’, ‘give’ and ‘ness’. I guess it’s not the kind of word or concept that I’ve meditated on deeply. After all, as children we’ve been taught to say sorry, to forgive then forget. Although as I’ve been schooled [the hard way] the past year, forgiveness is so much more than that. Pain precedes forgiveness, but so do choice and most of all, love. 

If we break down the 3 words that comprise forgiveness an incredible truth comes out. 

For – with the object or purpose of; intended to belong to or be used in connection with; suiting the purpose or needs of; in order to obtain, acquire or gain

Give – to present voluntarily and without expecting compensation; to place in someone’s care; to make a gift or gifts

Ness – a headland; promontory (a high point of land or rock projecting into the sea or other water beyond the line of coast); cape

Nowhere in each word definitions require (or even in the literal definition of forgiveness as one word) reciprocation or reconciliation contrary to expected conventions. So what is forgiveness? Forgiveness is a purposeful gift that knows no bounds. And yes, I hear you when you say that it’s not that simple in practise. In fact, it’s probably the most costly gift that we all have the choice to give/receive especially when the pain runs deep, hope is depleted and trust annihilated. I get it. I have a hard time doing it too without anger or bitterness offering reasons why I shouldn’t. But who am I to withhold forgiveness when I have been forgiven?

Love never stops loving. It extends beyond the gift of prophecy, which eventually fades away. It is more enduring than tongue, which will one day fall silent. Love remains long after words or knowledge are forgotten. 

1 Corinthians 13:8 (Passions Translation)

In a word, forgiveness is love. The kind of love that allowed for all of us to receive second, third, fourth, unlimited chances to correct our mistakes through Christ. The kind of unconditional love that sees and accepts us for all of who we are, come what may. So I ask again, how can I not extend the love that Christ freely gives me every single day? 

2020 may have reshaped our lives in ways we didn’t expect or wanted, and we may not know what 2021 may bring with new strains of the virus popping up. But this is all just part of experiencing real life – the bad, the painful, the beautiful, the fulfilling, the extraordinary. So thank you, 2020, for giving me marked moments. 

Always, 

K

P.S. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:2-5 (ESV)

Re: Take the lead

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If you’re live around Toronto, join our dance classes on Tuesdays & Fridays! 🙂

It was my second Forró dance class when my fellow beginner dance partner and I learned how to spin. After practicing the basics a few more times, it suddenly occurred to me that learning how to dance is closely similar to learning how to be in a harmonious relationship. You need open communication, trust, intimacy and confidence in yourself and each other to gracefully move around the dance floor. Granted, you may step on each other’s feet once or twice, literally, but that’s totally fine because it’s far more important to follow the same rhythm.

Before realizing this, I knew my own shortcomings when it comes to being in a romantic relationship. Though I must say, there were four key aspects that I clearly need to work on as a dancer and partner.

The Value of Taking a Pause

In Forró, the beat goes like this: 1, 2, 3, PAUSE, 1, 2, 3, PAUSE, 1, 2, 3, PAUSE. The pause may not seem like a significant thing when it’s written like this but it is. I learned this the hard way by not taking a pause and setting a pace that was faster than my dance partner’s. Our instructor says that, “you fall into the pause, it has a heavier weight while the other steps/beats are lighter.” Not taking that important pause made it more difficult for my partner and I to mirror each other’s steps, and since my pace was faster, I inevitably messed up our rhythm. I needed to slow down instead of anticipating my next step because my partner is supposed to be leading me not the other way around.

Relationships are similar in a sense that we fall in love with our partners slowly.

All of that attraction and desire is present within the first few months, but if we don’t slow down and take our time enjoying each other’s company and learning about one another beyond superficialities, that fire burns relatively quickly. Leaving thinking about what could have been instead of what is.

Letting Someone Else Take Control

Growing up I was taught to be self-sufficient and independent. If I was hungry, I’ll go get something to eat or cook for myself. If there’s an assignment that I need to get done, I’ll to do it myself. I hope you can immediately see how this can be a problem in a partner dance where the control is not entirely mine.

In Forró, the man is responsible for taking the lead, guiding the woman between bases and spins. There’s an unspoken communication between each other, a sort of letting go that I was initially reluctant to do. Part of it is learning to rely on someone else, trusting him. Both of which, I have a problem doing easily outside of dance. Thing is, the moment I let my dance partner take the lead was the exact moment I started to enjoy myself. It wasn’t just about learning how to dance anymore, I was dancing.

In a relationship, at times it may be difficult to trust your partner because trust is such a fragile thing. We’re emotionally invested and hopeful that the person we are choosing to trust will not take that gesture for granted. After all, we do not only trust them to take care of our toes, our hearts too.

Stop Thinking Too Much!

While the instructors were teaching us more complicated spins and steps, I found myself thinking too much about where my feet should go or if I’m spinning in the right direction or whether I was off beat again. Doing so made it more difficult for my body to actually learn the steps and spins.

Similarly, we can get so caught up with what’s in our heads instead of what’s in our hearts sometimes that soon enough we end up in a downward spiral. Questioning every little detail that may or may not matter as much as we think it does. If only we took the time to pause and recognize that all of the thoughts in our head are mere thoughts. They only stop being thoughts when we act on them.

Intimacy

Intimacy isn’t just a physical thing it’s a transcendent connection.

My dance partner and I would sway for a minute or so to get a sense of the rhythm of the song. Often times, you’ll see dancers close their eyes to feel the music and to let intimacy build with their partner. Creating this connection to the music and your partner keeps you in synch as you dance around the dance floor.

It’s a culmination of letting go of your inhibitions, trust, being receptive of open communication and building a connection.

By all means, I won’t be a great Forró dancer right away. It takes practice and changing habits to have the skill level I want to have. I’m also not shy to admit that I haven’t been the greatest girlfriend/partner either, but I’m working on it.

Baby steps.

Always,

K

P.S. My apologies for the photos, our dance social kept going as it rained.

Re: What makes you extraordinary? 3/3

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Angelica & I’s photo together over the summer beautifully sums up the kind of sweet and caring individual that she is. Grateful for our conversations and friendship! Keep being amazing love! 🙂

I was careful about introducing this project because I realized early on that our loved ones come in many forms. It could be a friend, a family member or romantic significant other. So I asked a couple of my friends to think of someone extraordinary. They didn’t have to tell me who it was right away. I simply wanted them to think of that person first. Then I asked them what makes the person they are thinking of extraordinary?

Angelica’s response:

“I think that they’re the strongest and most resilient person I know.”

Who were you thinking of?

“Mama.”

And…

Vicky’s response:

“My sister is extraordinary because she cares about other people and their well-being to the point where she compromises herself sometimes. She is artistic and creative in ways I’ll never comprehend haha. And even though, she’s just 13, the way she deals with conflict and people in general is something I’m still learning.”

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From pexels.com

Granted, I am still a closet romantic so I asked a dear couple, married for 54 years the same question to cap off this project. Bruce responds by sending me a speech he had written 30-40 years ago. It starts, “As I think of how grateful I am for my wife, I realized that her love and companionship alone make me very rich…” Of course, I read this like the love letter it became all these years. Bruce talked about his appreciation for her support and the significant role she had played in his life as her husband, the father of their children and as a professional. He concludes by saying that, “my wife is truly an individual person. I find this quality most exciting. She fulfills a demanding church stewardship of her own and derives great personal satisfaction from her achievement. She is also involved in a number of activities of self-improvement…I find these too supportive to me because I am proud to be the companion to this beautiful and exciting person-my wife!”

This project started as a reminder for myself and for everyone around me that even when you don’t feel your best self, someone out there sees you for who you are and who you are striving to be. It was a privilege to get such awesome responses to equally amazing individuals. I can only hope that someone in cyber space was inspired even just a little bit.

You are extraordinary. Don’t forget that.

 

Always,

K