Allow me to introduce you to a small project that changed my life in forty days.

Lent wasn’t talked about at the baptist church I grew up in. Spiritual disciplines? Sure. Specifically Lent? No. But somewhere along the line as a young adult, I adopted the practice of 40-day aestheticism in preparation for Easter.

Easter 2016

At the time, our family occupied a three-bedroom apartment on the east coast of Scotland. We were nearing the end of a unique season, living the expat life in St Andrews so my husband could complete his Ph.D. Life was very simple then and I had a hard time discerning what I needed to lay down for Lent.

Then a suggestion stirred in my heart: time. I sensed the call to sacrifice the time in my margins. Isn’t Jesus funny?! Asking a weary mother of two to sacrifice time in a nutty schedule of sippy cups and cheerios? My spirit laughed but then over the days that followed I felt this pressing urgency to spend my time in service, writing affirmations and acknowledging people who had influenced me. Obedience was the only option.

But who, Lord?

So I asked God to bring people to mind. I remember standing over my sink, staring at the cookbooks on the wall ahead, eyes welling up with tears as I explored my history, recalling the characters God had used to shape me. The practice changed my life. No exaggeration. The days leading to Easter 2016 were an unforgettable blurry mess.

I say unforgettable because the exercise rewired my heart. Writing acknowledgments to the world at large transformed my relationship with humanity. I became fully aware of the layer of divinity just below the surface. It opened my eyes to the power of influence we each possess.

I say a blurry mess because a) I perpetually had smudgy eyes from weeping tears of joy and b) I went through an impressive amount of dry shampoo. Just ask my husband.

The Top Forty

Here is a menu of the 40 posts. I highly recommend taking up the challenge of #40shoutouts40days. Talk to me and I’ll tell you why.

  1. My ninth grade English teacher, Mrs Hoogsta
  2. Donita, my first ballet teacher
  3. Mrs Narbett, the saint otherwise known as my high school Textiles teacher 
  4. Chef Malcolm Bain from the VCC Culinary Arts Program
  5. Michael Leunig, Australian cartoonist
  6. Sarah Williams: brilliant academic, beloved teacher, and friend
  7. My Grammie June and Grandma Marion
  8. Ina Garten and all her butter
  9. Vikram Vij & Meeru Dhalwala, masters of Indian cuisine
  10. The Italian restaurateur who taught me about true hospitality
  11. Robert Farrar Capon, author of The Supper of the Lamb
  12. The man with the ponytail who used to work at Oyama
  13. Ashley Rodriguez, food genius and author of Date Night In
  14. Alisha Adams, the girl who told me to drop out of university
  15. The barista who played Lauryn Hill’s live album in the coffee shop
  16. Stevie Wonder, full-time lover
  17. Chip Wilson, the wild and wonderful founder of lululemon
  18. Carmen, the first boss who called me out on wasting time
  19. The students I had the honour of tutoring
  20. My boss at my first Big Girl Job
  21. Penny, B&B owner and soul nurturer
  22. Katie, one of several favourite badass managers
  23. lululemon’s corporate class of 2011
  24. Dr Colleen, the neurologist who literally saved my sanity
  25. Chiropractor Extraordinaire Shelley Adams
  26. Lance Odegard, poet and author of At The Pool We’ve All Got Bodies
  27. Michaela Evanow, writer and heart behind #mamagrief
  28. Anne Lamott (who hardly needs an introduction)
  29. Elizabeth Koda-Callan, author of the gimmicky book The Silver Slippers
  30. Glennon Doyle Melton, author of Love Warrior and Oprah’s latest BFF
  31. My cousin Heidi, the best bad influence available in 1995
  32. The multitude of spectacular artists I call friends
  33. Vancouver’s mysterious Opera Man
  34. Youth workers in general (but specifically the ones from SDBC)
  35. Rob Lee, Director of Camp Firwood, and his wife Val
  36. Terry & Michelle, mentors and bullshit police 
  37. Tim Keller, wise pastor and genius communicator
  38. Lorne and Mary-Ruth Wilkinson, Regent College legends and friends
  39. Brother Lawrence, perfector of the practice
  40. My Heavenly Father