Aug 31, 2012

Breathing in the Beach...

I am about an hour away from heading to the beach with one of my best friends...

I have said it before, and I will probably say it dozens more times, I love the beach. There is just something about the smell of ocean water that propels my heart towards Christ. I do not know why, but I know that every time I am near the ocean I find my heart decompressing and becoming still. Not to mention, I love watching the sun set and rise over the ocean.. Talk about an amazing thing to observe.. You see, no two are the same, the colors are always different, the clouds create new elements, and each time it is as though the sky screams "His mercies are new every morning."

I love it.

So, here is to getting a break from packing, planning, working, and stressing to submerge my feet in sand, and breathe deeply the smell of salt water!

Aug 30, 2012

Pause to be Thankful...

In the midst of the chaos and flying emotions that are my life right now, I wanted to pause and list a few things that I am so thankful for, and mention a few things that have reminded me of how awesome God is.

I have amazing friends. I know I say this all the time, but seriously, they make me a better person, and keep me sane.

I passed my Managerial Finance class with a C!.. Ok, not exactly something to be gleeful about, but trust me, I am beyond excited about the grade and being done. Stupid class I will never have to take again! (If I ever am called by God to go back to school again, shoot me if the classes have any higher level math skills required in them!)

I am getting a full day to do nothing on a beach with one of my best friends this weekend. I am pumped and beyond thankful for the time to decompress and listen to the waves.

I found an apartment last weekend when I was home that is amazing. I am so excited to be able to paint, hang things on the wall, and get the Great Dane I have wanted for a couple years.

I was able to talk with my soon to be boss/pastor about a few expectations with my job, and we are on the same page which is a relief, and very exciting... But, it also is allowing me to begin to gather ideas and become inspired again about possibilities.. I am really excited about this job.

Spending a few hours laughing with friends is always the best medicine for my aching and overwhelmed heart.

I am so thankful to get the chance to be closer to my family.. Regardless of for how long, I will relish this opportunity.

I am always amazed, humbled, and thankful when people trust me with their stories.

I am really looking forward to the whirlwind of seeing and hanging out with people over the next month!.. I am not at all excited about saying goodbye to them, but I am really looking forward to seeing them all.

Last weekend, I got some much needed time with my siblings and parents (all individually), and I love that I left the weekend reminded of how amazing my family is.

In the last two weeks, I have crossed off SEVEN answered prayers on the 3x5 prayer cards that are on my bathroom mirror.. And, only two of them were prayers for myself.. I love when I can see God moving all around me!

Despite the whirlwind that is my life right now, I am so thankful for all the ways I am being blessed.. I am even more excited and amazed by what God is doing, and I love that I can see how things are falling into place that I have been praying about for years..

What an amazing time right now..

Aug 28, 2012

Reacting to Stress...

I often work very hard (and most of the time I am successful) at containing the emotions that are raw, close to my heart or leave me feeling vulnerable. I mean, let's be honest, I convey emotions all over the place.. I ooze excitement, happiness consumes my face when I'm laughing, my voice and body language hit like a ton of bricks when I am upset or angry... But, when I am overwhelmed with feelings, I contain those at all costs. However, there are times when no amount of containment efforts do anything but add to the explosion when my emotions catapult me off the cliff of control.

My emotional reaction to stress differs depending on the situation, but also is different based on the compounding emotions added to the stress. I am in one of those periods in my life that no amount of containment efforts do much for very long in hiding or containing the stress and emotions. I mean, at this point, I can talk about the emotions I am feeling, but it is conveyed with a smile, a nervous laugh, and I refer to them as though I am actually talking about someone else...

I am fully aware, and very intentionally telling people how I feel without actually letting them witness the emotions. At this point I do not know how else to cope with all of the people and questions coming my way. I want to be completely and totally honest, but I also have to prevent myself from falling apart... Now is not the time to be emotional, things have to get done and be accomplished.

Yet, despite all of my best efforts, sometimes there just is nothing I can do to keep the stress and emotions under wraps.

Sunday evening I had a meltdown... and, when I say meltdown, I am not talking about some cute little cry session that makes you feel better when you are done... I am referencing total and complete overload type of shutdown. I was working on homework and legitimately not understand what I was doing, I had spent three hours trying to do my homework and had literally gotten nowhere.. Not one thing had been accomplished other than Googling terms, formulas, and examples. I had a little over four hours until the homework was due, and I had nothing done. On an average night when I understand my homework for this class (Managerial Finance) it takes me three to four hours... When I do not understand, it can take up to seven or eight hours.

After a few random outbursts at my computer for hating it, my mom suggested I ask my dad for help. So, because I had no other option and was already on the downward spiral of freaking out, I asked my dad to help...

Pause real quick... My dad is an amazing man, he is my hero, and I love that we are a lot alike, we are very close, and we communicate the same way... Most times our similarity is beneficial, but in the instances where I do not understand and are teetering on the edge of meltdown, our communication deteriorates quickly.

We started out strong, he was figuring out my homework, and walking me through what I needed to do... then I began to not understand why things were getting done the way they were.. I loathe not understanding things that I try to grasp. Seriously, I hate it when I do not and feel as though I cannot comprehend something. So, I began asking questions about why it was being done this way and not that way... He explained.. I asked again in a different way, he explained again in a different way, and something inside of me just snapped. I could not handle the fact that he was explaining and I literally could NOT grasp what he was saying. So I asked a different way, and he explained in another way, and we both began raising our voices.. (in our family raising your voice really does not have any direct correlation to being angry, we raise our voices for every emotion in the book basically.) We began repeating the asking questions, explaining, and raising our voices.. and me continuing not to understand for about an hour.

I literally felt like I had been pushed off a cliff and had no way of reeling back to control the emotions that literally exploded out of me.

I began to cry.. and I am not a cute crier, I ugly cry. So I cried, and talked with a breaking voice, then tried yelling with a breaking voice.. all the while knowing that I was not going to help him understand what I was not understanding, but all I felt like I could control was the off chance that I might be able to say SOMETHING to help me understand, thus validating my emotions and my out of control feeling that had taken over.

I mean after all, if I could not keep my schooling together, I knew it was a slippery slope to other things I cannot control. And, I am not a fan of things I cannot control inside of myself.. in general I, like most other people, dislike feeling out of control, but to be honest, my intense desire for control comes down to wanting to be in control of myself, not necessarily my circumstances (although I do like that as well).

So, Sunday night I cried. Partially because of the frustration of my homework, but also because I felt as though with everything going on, my homework SHOULD be the one thing I can control; that would be a false feeling and ideal.

To finish the story, after we finished yelling and me melting down, I took a break to get some dinner, then he helped me with the remainder of homework that he could, and the remainder of my homework I threw some numbers and formulas together that might have possibly been what was needed for the rest of my homework and called it good at 1:30am... after starting around 6:30.

The thing I am realizing is that no matter how excited I am about what is coming, every other emotion is trailing like little ducklings. I know I am following my God, and I know that this job is going to be my sweet spot.. I know without any doubts that challenges and all, I am going to relish what God has me doing. But, I am fairly certain I have a meltdown or two coming in the next month or so, but I am hoping it occurs when I am alone or at the very least around someone who can handle it and does not take it personally.

God never said it would be easy to follow Him... But, man what a ride it will be!

Aug 25, 2012

Traveling Notes...

This morning (which still feels like yesterday), I packed a bag and trekked to BWI to fly home and surprise my family with a visit.

Weird since I am moving back to Michigan soon right?.. Well, you see what had happened was, almost two months ago I found a deal that was a round trip flight for $95, and at this point I had not been home since Christmas, so why not swing the little extra money to fly home?

haha, little did I know that God's plan for this weekend was to actually apartment hunt, as well as see my family.

My flight was at 6:05 this morning, about an hour away, which meant leaving at 3:30am, subsequently I decided against taking a nap for fear that I would not wake up in time to leave... Getting to the airport was quite the aggravating trip considering I thought I was going the speed limit of 55 (ok, realistically I was going 56 or 57) and got "caught" by a flash camera, only to 1/4 of a mile down the road see a sign saying the speed limit was 40. I was really not happy and distracted by my annoyance, which made me take THREE wrong turns.. The first was missing my exit, the second two were misjudged routes to correct the problem.. Finally, I busted out the gps to save my aggravated and tired self.

Side note: I love traveling at odd hours because I can wear the most comfortable clothes (sweatpants and t-shirt), and go sans makeup, with my hair up in the most practical fashion, glasses, and no one looks at me differently.

I promptly found a couple seats at the gate that did not have arm rests between them and took a nap until it was time to load... I also love traveling at odd hours cause the planes are not anywhere close to full, which means I often can get an entire row of seats to myself to curl up in and sleep... Except for the small child who's sleep had also been disrupted and decided to scream until after we took off. I always feel for the parents of the children who cry.. loudly. Thankfully the constant drumming of the flight lulled the small boy to sleep quickly.. As it did me as well.

I got picked up by my brother and soon to be sister-in-law, and we proceeded to laugh, take three wrong turns, get coffee, laugh some more.... frantically open windows every time my brother decided to "share" a present with us...

Oh to be home.

Aug 24, 2012

Packing Disaster...

Packing is potentially one of my least favorite things; partially because I know I never do it well. I am most certainly not the most efficient and organized packer, and I really have only a system that makes sense to me.

Currently, I am attempting to be a for real packer and have a rhyme or reason to my methods... We shall see how long that lasts. I feel like usually I start out every time I pack with the determination to have a system, and then it quickly deteriorates into "eh, I'll remember that bizarre item was put in this random box that belongs in a different room..."

I am also for the first time ever (no seriously) throwing crap away that has no business moving with me, and donating to Goodwill things that I have not used in a year or more.. and realistically have no reason to use.. Like the "maybe" broken printer that I haven't dug out of the closet in the two years I have lived in DC.. There is NO reason to lug it to MI with me... Or the shoes that I completely wore the heels off of, and they are not even expensive enough shoes to re-heel... They need to go.

However, due to my.... attempt at a logical move, my room is driving me crazy because it is full of "piles".. The closest one to the door is the Goodwill pile, followed closely by the gathered-from-around-the-house-that-I-need-to-remember-to-pack-cause-it's-mine pile, then the three bins that are packed, but will likely be unpacked and re-packed with something else once I get more boxes and actually begin my plan of attack for packing... Then of course my (almost) ever present clean clothes taking up half my bed.. And a random smattering of paint supplies and empty boxes taking up the remainder of my room.

Should be a fun couple months! Oye.

Aug 22, 2012

Back in the Mitten...

I remember two distinct desires from when I was five:
1) I wanted to get married and have a family.
2) I wanted to change the world.

What five year old thinks that?!...

Well, at 27, I have yet to get married or start a family, so why not focus on changing the world?...

How do I even begin to explain the rabbit trails that God has been working on for so long?!.. Let alone in the last year. The entirety of this move is crazy and overwhelming, but really awesome and exciting.

I will likely post several more times talking about various aspects of the next couple months, and since I am feeling quite overwhelmed with tasks and emotions currently, I plan on just giving the basic information, and then expounding later.

To say that I am excited about all of the possibilities this job has would be an understatement.
To say that there will be challenges, and it is all a bit overwhelming at the same time would be such an understatement it is laughable.. Because, while I am excited, I am also reeling with a million things that I need to do and normal emotions that moving entails. Deciding to leave DC, my church, my friends, my community here, and moving even further away from my friends in Lynchburg has been an incredibly difficult decision, and one that anyone I talked about it with can attest to the internal struggle I had reconciling all of the feelings and emotions involved...

Yet, regardless of my internal conflict, one thing remained clear; God was in control. I knew that I was going to struggle, but I also felt a profound presence that God has been with me through it all. Sometime later, I will post a few of the ways God has orchestrated this entire thing.. It is crazy and overwhelming to see all the big and little ways in which He has shown up in the last year moving me towards this, and I feel like it should be shared.. But, not today.

So, the big questions, where and what will I be doing? I will be moving to the metro Detroit area to work for Clarkston Free Methodist Church. I will be.. for lack of a better term, a community catalyst. I will be working outside the church in the local, regional, and eventually global community to network, identify needs, create plans to help implement change, then go back and teach, train, equip, and mobilize the people in the church to fulfill those needs. And, I will work with the church to appeal to and bring back the 20-30somethings. This is a ridiculously watered down explanation, but it will help give an idea.

The answers to some common questions I have been getting:
Yes, my family is ecstatic!
No, I will not be living at my parent's place, they live about an hour away and it would not make sense to work to build relationships in a community I don't live in.
I will be moving sometime near the end of September, and am planning on getting an apartment near the church.

And, one of the biggest answers to the most common question I have been getting asked:
No, I still do not own a "real bed"... so I am able to deflate mine and transport it very easily! ;)

P.S. Please note the name of this post.. Yes, it is a purposeful play on words :)

Aug 16, 2012

Hip Woes...

There are periods of time that I forget and subsequently become lazy about the specific and tedious care my body needs in order to maintain homeostasis. You see, my tendons and ligaments are something similar to an old worn and overused rubber band; they stretch more then they should, and they have very little pull resistance. Due to the relaxed nature of my tendons and ligaments, I have to be diligent in exercising, taking supplements, and stretching.

What happens when I am not diligent?... I dislocate a hip and crumble to the floor.

Seriously, that happened to me last Sunday.

The frustrating thing about all of this is, I am aware of my issues with my joints, but somehow manage to forget and/or push my body just beyond what it can handle... The even more frustrating thing is when I dislocated my hip this time, I did it stretching. No joke, I had spent the whole weekend dancing, and really it was the first time I had worked out in more than two months.. However, I did not think about the fact that spending all weekend dancing would fatigue my core and hip muscles, which would then affect my bodies ability to keep itself together.

On Sunday I was doing a fairly normal standing leg stretch when my right hip popped about eight times and shifted dramatically. (Before continuing, let me explain, I dislocate things on a somewhat regular basis.. It is always painful, but no joint is as painful as the hip... Ok, well maybe the jaw, but that happens less regularly.) Thankfully when I dislocated my hip I was holding onto a railing, otherwise I likely would have fallen; instead I lowered my leg, and then slowly crumbled to the floor trying to draw as little attention to myself as possible.

Pain. Massive amounts of pain when you dislocate your hip.

I spent the next twenty minutes trying to see if I could pop my hip back into place myself. I succeeded in popping it a few more times, but not really back into socket. And, since I was getting ready to take the last workshop of the weekend, one of which I had been looking forward to all weekend, I proceeded to dance another hour. By the end of the workshop, my pain threshold was getting a good test, but my almost equally intense desire to not make a big deal about the pain was also in full effect.

Thankfully, I was able to find a friend in town willing to inflict even more pain on me in order to put my hip back into place. The only bright spot in dislocating my hip is it provides incredibly hysterical stories later of the process of talking friends through how to put my hip back, fielding their questions, then laughing at their reactions to the entire thing.. And, trust me, I am perfectly aware that it is a completely ridiculous situation to start with, which only adds to the humor of it all... after the pain has subsided.

Currently, I am dealing with residual effects of a dislocated hip, which basically include a really sore hip joint, and a lot of somewhat painful but careful stretching. As luck would have it, I have weekly visits to my chiropractor and he is awesome; he put me through some tests to figure out where my hip was a few days later, then gave me some tips and things he wants me to do to speed up recovery.. but until then it feels unstable and sore. Lovely.

Aug 15, 2012

Oh, The Places You'll Go...

My mind has been buzzing all day knowing that tomorrow I find out whether my move is close or far...

It is interesting because regardless of what happens or the decision that is made I am excited. And, more than that, I am excited to finally get an answer, and know the direction I'm heading, but also because each possibility opens entirely different doors that excite me.

"It's opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And then things start to happen,
don't worry. Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.


You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights." 

Aug 13, 2012

Life Lessons from Dancing...

So, I spent the weekend at the DC Bachata Congress. This is my second year attending the entire weekend, and my third year attending at least some portion of the event. I love dancing, and I love dancing with friends.. which this weekend was packed full of.. but, I am always amazed at how much I learn about myself and life in general from dancing.

However, before I get to my life lessons, this weekend my friends and I succeeded in taking more than one picture throughout the weekend...

(haha... There are a few more from my camera, and she has a couple more on her camera as well)
Throughout the whole weekend, we took some amazing classes, learned a whole lot more footwork than anyone could ever actually retain in one weekend; so instead took a ton of videos of the things we learned. And then we spent all of our spare time doing homework, eating, and sleeping. 

So, onto the life lessons I garnered about myself and relationships from dancing.

First, here's a video, that's out of focus, but gives you a basic idea of what I'm going to talk about. We are dancing Salsa (on 1)...

This video was from the second hour of the private lesson I had with Darlin Garcia, (who is hands down my favorite instructor/professional dancer). I have a lot of respect for him for so many reasons, partially because he loves and is dedicated to what he does, but also because he loves and is dedicated to his beautiful wife, son, and God, and there is no mistaking any of that... Not to mention he is a fantastic teacher and lots of fun.

Anyway, while he spent a couple hours helping me perfect my approach to salsa, my technique, and footwork (all things I desperately needed), he (probably) unknowingly helped me understand my approach to a lot of things in my life as well. 

The first hour of our lesson was just he and I, and we spent the majority of the time working on the literal basic steps, but not because I did not know them or could not perform them, it was entirely because I was not focused on the basic steps, so subsequently would try and figure out or get to the next step, move, pattern etc.. Which of course throws off the entire dance because he (the lead) is not there yet. Other times I would get so anxious for what was coming next that I would stop paying attention to what was going on now, and as he deemed it "run away" trying to anticipate. In the video you can see me smile or laugh at him each time I almost run away to the next thing before he leads me there... And then at the end of the video the high five was because I made it all the way through without anticipating and actually allowed him to lead me... It is harder than it looks!

I realized in the middle of our lesson that in general my approach to life is foll throttle forward.. and very little of my attention is in taking the time to focus on right now, the current step... Oye.

The night before my lesson, I realized that I always thought I needed or preferred a "strong lead" meaning a clear, distinct, and "good strong" lead, which I associated with forceful... Yet I realized that I was not as much a fan of the forceful leads, and felt like I messed up much more. After spending time learning from Darlin, it solidified my revelation; the "good strong" leads are actually the yes, clear, distinct, but gentle ones, not at all forceful. Because while Darlin is certainly strong enough to easily pull and push me around as we dance if he wanted to, he chooses instead to be clear and direct, yet entirely gentle guidance... Granted because I am still not very good yet, it takes me a little while to learn and pick up what the signals mean, but he remained patient, and kept his sense of humor throughout the entire two hour lesson. 

What I realized throughout my lesson with Darlin, and the weekend as a whole is that, the more forceful a lead was, the more tense I would get in the dance, and then subsequently the more I would mess up and the less fun I would have. When I get tense, I would begin to get nervous and spend the entire time focused on protecting my shoulders from turns that were too forceful or pay more attention to the people around me ensuring I did not bump into them rather than enjoying the dance and the lead he was giving. However, on the opposite spectrum, the guys that lead clearly and directly, but with a much more gentle approach allowed me to relax, trust them, and follow much more easily. I found that with the gentle leads I would I stop paying attention to the people around me and forgot to focus on protecting myself from potential harm and instead just enjoyed the dance.

I find it funny that spending a couple hours with a dance instructor gave me a slighly different perspective on not just guys leading in general, but more specifically what actually makes me more comfortable.. which interestingly enough was not entirely what I thought (only maybe 2/3 correct haha). 

What a painless way to learn something about yourself... If only all life lessons could be taught in a couple hours of salsa dancing ;)

Aug 9, 2012

Normal With a Chance of Chaos..

I always find it interesting when life decides to take on the normal with a chance of chaos as the forecast.

Currently, I find myself in several situations that bring the possibilities of change, but no actual change yet... There are lots of possibilities on the horizons, but honestly I am in a holding pattern. There really is not a whole lot "new" but, that could dramatically change in a few weeks. And, due to the mere ideal that change could come, it brings ridiculous amounts of unintentional, unneeded, and unhelpful stress and "problem solving" mental exercises for potential situations instead of actual ones.

I have been fasting sweets/desserts for 25 days, and have spent literally that entire time praying about things changing and all the various possibilities, my feelings throughout all of it, and finally feel as though in the last couple of days I have really settled down and am content to let God do his thing.

So, life is normal with a chance of chaos.