November 30, 2015

a thrill of hope

I have felt burdened as of late, an overwhelming burden that I feel entirely powerless against. Every time I log onto the internet or catch the news, it seems as though another tragedy has occurred. School shootings, bombings, persecution, and murders seem so common now that it’s almost as though I’m not fazed anymore. I wrote a post a while back on being mad about school shootings and how it seemed that it was more of a “when” and less of an “if.” 

After the attack in Paris, I talked to a friend who loves the city and has spent so much of her life studying the language and traveling through the very city that was all over the news. She talked about balancing between the Christian ideal of forgiveness and grace, but while being entirely angered at the evil that had occurred. I said back to her, “I feel so overwhelmed with the darkness and devastation that I don’t even know where to start. I don’t know how to think about it and not allow myself to become broken and angry and bitter.”

s o u r c e
I’ve come to a place where it’s easier to not think about it because thinking about it and really leaning into the pain and brokenness means confronting hard truths. It means asking tough questions- questions that may never be answered and the reality of wrestling with those questions for the rest of my life is terrifying. It’s easier to bury my head in the sand and pretend like nothing is wrong. If it hasn’t happened in my little world, then it’s almost like it didn’t happen. I realize that isn’t healthy and that it’s actually just denial. 

To be honest, I’m scared to ask tough questions. I’m scared at what that journey of questioning looks like. I know that God is good- it’s a truth that I cling to, but it’s also hard to look at what is happening all over the world and still proclaim that God is good and is for us. It’s not impossible, but it can just feel really difficult sometimes. 

I was driving earlier today and “O Holy Night” came on the radio. I was covered in chills and brought to tears as the song proclaimed, “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices. For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.” We are a weary world. We are perpetually saddened and broken over the state of our world. That’s something that we can all, regardless of our skin color, culture, or country of origin, can identify with. 

s o u r c e
This season, the season of advent, is one of hope and anticipation as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. In the midst of tragedy and devastation, we can grasp to the promise of restoration. Even though the brokenness feels insurmountable, we are promised that restoration is to come. This season reminds us of that. 
Brothers. Sisters. Do not abandon yourselves to despair. Cling to the hope of goodness and truth. Rejoice in that truth. Just as the song says, “for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.” 

November 7, 2015

you are not being persecuted

A friend showed me a video last night of a loud, aggressive, "Christian" man claiming that the new holiday Starbucks cups were an intentional movement on behalf of Starbucks to take the "Christ" out of Christmas. Now, Christians all over are equating this act with persecution because there aren't any overt references to Christmas on the cups.

Yeah, I'm being entirely serious. I could not wrap my mind around the argument he was trying to make. Red cups are persecution? He also commented that Starbucks employees are banned from saying "Merry Christmas" and that Starbucks "hates Jesus." Those are some pretty lofty, completely unfounded claims. I'm not writing this because I love Starbucks or I want those sweet, sweet Creme Brûlée lattes protected: I'm writing this because American Christians need to stop claiming that they are being persecuted.

Starbucks is a company. It is run by a CEO. It is composed of almost two hundred thousand employees who work in stores all over the world. Corporations aren't religious. When we all die and get to those pearly gates, I don't think Starbucks will be standing alongside Chick Fil A waiting to hear if they get to spend eternity worshipping the good Lord. The people who compose the corporation can be religious, but in and of itself, the corporation is not. Why should Starbucks honor one faith above another, when it is not a religious entity? Why should the cups be adorned with messages of Christmas? What about Kwanzaa, Hannukah, or Mawlid? These are all holidays that are incredibly important to individuals from other cultural or religious backgrounds. Why should a secular corporation celebrate one holiday above another? Would people be crying persecution if the cups were blue with little menorahs on them? I would imagine that a significant population, the same individuals who are claiming persecution in this case, would regardless of what the cups looked like. That is, unless the cups were overtly and undeniably "Christian."

Also, do none of these individuals remember that Starbucks, in addition to their annual "Holiday Blend" sell a "Christmas Blend" and an Advent Calendar? They hate Christmas? They hate Jesus? Oh, it really does make my blood boil. It is so ignorant. No, it is more than ignorant... it is asinine. The way this man is encouraging people to make their point to Starbucks is through ordering drinks and saying that their names are "Merry Christmas" so that the cups will have their specific holiday message on it and baristas will be forced to say it. First of all, let's go over "Boycotting 101"- maybe don't send people to spend their money to support the place that you're so angry at. I mean, this just seems so basic, but maybe I'm the one that is backwards. Second of all, it is just so stupid that I'm not actually going to dignify their argument by making another point.

Don't get me wrong- I don't like the cups this year. My dislike for them has absolutely nothing to do with anything other than the fact that minimalism isn't my favorite style of art/design. That is it. It has nothing to do with my own religious beliefs. It simply involves my personal tastes and preferences.

Persecution is such a buzzword right now. So many people, as of late, have claimed persecution and I want to look at them and recite these famous words from "The Princess Bride:"

I am especially bothered by these claims of persecution in light of what is happening to our Christian brothers and sisters all over the globe. Every month, three hundred and twenty-two Christians are killed for their faith and seven hundred and seventy-two acts of violence are committed against Christians because of their faith. These acts of violence can include physical abuse, rape, beatings, false imprisonment, etc. This is persecution. Starbucks having plain red (okay, ombre...) cups is not the same as being imprisoned for over three years in an Iranian prison for your religion like Saeed Abedini.

Persecution is real. It's happening all over the world. It's happening right now. It is brutal, terrible, horrific, and devastating. But, it is not happening at the hand of Starbucks or their red cups.

July 13, 2015

worth staying

There has been a lot of pain surrounding me recently. I work at a Christian university and unfortunately, our school has been making the news over the past four months for some really heavy, difficult, and heartbreaking things. This university isn’t just a place of employment for me: it’s my home. When I was a junior in high school, I stumbled across an add for this university in a magazine. I had lived in California for my entire life, but something about moving to another state for college seemed really exciting. I ended up deciding to spend time at a community college and when it came time to transfer, I decided to visit this school. I didn’t have my heart set on coming here, but I thought it would be fun to visit. From the moment I stepped on campus, I knew I was home. I can’t even describe the feeling as anything but instantly having an overwhelming sense of peace that everything was as it should be. In August of 2009, my parents and younger sisters brought me out to Idaho. While it was hard saying goodbye to them when they left, I knew that I was in the right place. I knew I was exactly where God wanted me. 

I spent two years studying, experiencing life, and growing at this university. The time I spent in the classroom, residence halls, around campus, and in the community was entirely transformative. Fast forward to 2015: I’m getting ready to begin my fourth school year as an employee for the university. In March, I’ll be finishing my graduate degree. This however-many-acre campus is where I live, work, and study. So much of my life is wrapped up in this space and in the people who also call it home.

In times of hardship, my first reaction is to run. I’m really good at always having an escape plan. When things become difficult, my first thoughts are how I can get out of the situation. When things started unfolding in April, I wondered why I was still here. What am I doing? Why would I subject myself to being surrounded by such negativity and sorrow? I was talking to one of my dear friends the other day about what had been happening at our home and he said, “We are closing a very sad and strange chapter. I think for me, I just have to mentally commit myself to being part of the solution moving forward.” We talked a bit more about reconciliation and redemption. That hit me like a ton of bricks. It wasn’t about the pain, it wasn’t about the sorrow, it was about saying, “Look, I know this is hard, but it’s worth it to stay and rebuild."

Staying and being part of the solution doesn’t mean disregarding what has been done. For me, it means looking right into the face of it, acknowledging it, feeling whatever I need to feel about it, and saying, “Okay, what do I do with all of this?” To me, that means weeping with those who have been hurt, but it doesn’t mean staying in that place of pain. I know that staying in the pain is dangerous. It allows things to fester, and when that happens, I become obsessed with my pain in a way that keeps me distanced from God and goodness. I do not say that to discount what anyone is feeling or the pain that they are experiencing. I don’t say that to smooth over what has happened and propel everyone forward. Everyone grieves in their own way, but for me, I know I can’t remain in the grief, anger, or sorrow. 

God has made it very apparent to me since the moment that I stepped onto this campus as a prospective student that I am supposed to be here. This place, although currently devastated, is so beautiful and special. The staff and faculty give everything they have to the students that decide to call this place home. The Lord works here, both in people and through them. This is a place of transformation. By no means is it perfect, but it is good, and that is because of the humans that compose the heart beat of this place. Even though my natural reaction is to run, I’m learning through this experience, that staying is good. I’m choosing to plant myself here, for however long the Lord calls me to be in this space, and I promise to be a part of the solution. 

Regardless of what has happened here and will happen here in the future, I believe in this place. I commit myself to moving forward, through the brokenness, and being a part of reconciliation. 

June 20, 2015

i'm mad

I've been trying to formulate my thoughts on the recent events in Charleston, South Carolina, but I can't seem to find anything worth saying.

I keep coming back to feeling mad.

I'm mad that this happened. I'm mad that someone felt like it was their right or job to take the lives of others. I'm mad that hate runs so deep that a person would feel justified in harming others. I'm mad that nine beautiful lives were taken. I'm mad that not even churches are safe. I'm mad that there is so much brokenness and racism in the United States. I'm mad that there are some people who aren't devastated over what's happened. I'm mad that we live in a time where these things continue to happen.

I remember the first time that I realized that the world was not a safe place, it was about one week before my tenth birthday. A girl who lived not far from me in Southern California was found brutally murdered in her bedroom. It took me years to get over this, and that's not an exaggeration. I remember being so shocked that someone could hurt an innocent girl, in her own home. She was about two years older than me and there was something about the closeness in age and the proximity to home that made this so real for me. It really was the first time that I was afraid of murder, harm, and death.

One year later, on my little sister's 9th birthday, the Columbine shooting happened. Twelve high school students were murdered that day, twenty one were injured, and the two shooters committed suicide. I didn't understand. How could something like this happen at a high school? I was eleven years old and remember thinking that maybe school wasn't a safe place. The Columbine shooting stuck with me for a while as well. I remember reading "She Said Yes," the story of Cassie Bernall, one of the murdered students. I remember thinking about what I would have done in her specific situation and what I would have done if I were at that school that day. I was eleven years old and my thoughts were occupied with these types of questions- questions about why people hurt others and why the places I always considered to be safe weren't.

The massacre at Virginia Tech University happened in April of 2007. I was 19 years old. I was one year into college and working at a golf course. I remember being inside the golf course grill when someone told me to go look at the televisions. Thirty-two people were murdered that day. I sat there with customers, watching the horror and devastation unfold right before our eyes. We sat in silence, our eyes glued to the television. It made no sense to me. How could this happen?

I'm mad that I had to see those things as a child, but more than being mad about seeing it, I'm so mad that it was reality for others. I'm mad that people had to live that. I'm mad that there is such terror and hatred in the world. I'm mad that one day, I'm going to have to explain these events to my children and that I'm going to have to be afraid of what could happen to them.

I'm mad that, in this time and place, mass shootings are not uncommon to hear of.

University of California at Santa Barbara. Century Movie Theater in Aurora, CO. Columbine. Virginia Tech. Santana High School. Sandy Hook. Seattle Pacific University. Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church

I'm so mad and my heart is broken. I'm mad that children have to grow up being afraid that they could be hurt, whether it is because of their race, where they go to school, where they worship, or just because someone decides that they will harm them. I'm mad that this keeps happening yet it seems like our devastation, as a society, decreases every time. It's almost like we're calloused to the brokenness and the sorrow, whether that be because we don't want to feel the pain or we just don't know what to do with it.

I'm grateful that I serve a God who knows more than I do, that loves in a way I can not understand, and who values all life. There is comfort in that, but the sorrow remains. I hate platitudes and when people try to make beauty in situations where the brokenness needs to be felt and grappled with. All I know is that one day, wrongs will be righted and brokenness will be mended: everything will be restored. I cling to that hope. I wait for that day, but my waiting does not allow me to sit idly by as my brothers and sisters are pain. Lord Jesus, equip me to respond to this brokenness in the right way and please, come in glory.

March 26, 2015

what is love?

If you're anything like me, you probably had this running list when you were in middle school or high school of what traits your future husband needed to meet in order to be worthy of you. Even writing that sentence sends chills down my spine because it's such a silly concept, yet something that SO many of my friends did. I don't know who gave us that idea. Who was the first person to scrawl a list of fluffy personality traits, stash it in a hope chest or special drawer, and then share it with their friends? That person, whoever they are, is the worst.

As I get older and singler (not a real word but it works here), I realize how much of that stuff really is just fluff. I remember writing about someone who could play the guitar, led worship at church, was athletic, funny, had dark hair, and just knowing that those things, for me, were non-negotiables (at the time). I think every girl who grew up in a Christian community had a thing for worship band members at one point, if you didn't, you are foreign to me and then who did you even have a crush on?

I was talking to my gal pal Elyse a couple months ago about these silly lists we created and what our lists would look like now, if we were to create one. We started rapidly texting back and forth about things that are important when you're considering investing in someone as a 27 and 28 year old. The thing that tops our lists, still, is someone who is religious. It's not necessarily the person in front of the church, like the worship leader dream boat from our youth, but someone who is an active participant in a body of believers. It means someone who's life truly does revolve around Jesus, in the most genuine and true fashion. All I knew as a seventh grader was that I wanted it to be someone who was super involved at youth group and probably on SALT or LIGHT, which were the names of our 7th and 8th grade leadership teams. That was more for popularity's sake than anything genuine. I wanted a cool church kid- now I just want a real Jesus lover.

We also talked about finances. We don't want to date no scrubs. This doesn't mean we're looking for people with bank accounts that end in infinite zeros (it would obviously have a real number in the front so that it wasn't really just zero dollars). Do you know how to manage money? Can you stick to a budget? Can you balance your check book? Do you spend within your means? Do you maybe have a retirement account or a savings account? These are the traits that are sexy in your late twenties. You don't need to be rich nor do you even need to make a substantial amount of money- just don't be overdrawing all the time and spending money on take out 24/7 when you can't afford to buy more toothpaste. Not sexy.

Understand the importance of family. As I get older, I realize that not everyone grew up in a tight knit family unit like I did. My parents always loved each other, my siblings were mostly always good to me, and my extended family was relatively normal. I say relatively normal because there's some crazies that I share a blood relation with, but we all still love each other. You don't have to be super close to your family or even have the average 2.7 siblings and 1.9 parents, but have a desire to create a family connection.

These are pretty much the most important things- Jesus, responsibility, and family. Everything else, hair color to sense of humor, is all frosting. Sure, it would be great if the person loved all my favorite music and thought that Taylor Swift was the most incredible human, but that's not likely. Unless, of course, I marry myself which is a big no thank you. This may seem unromantic or boring, but it's actually quite exciting as I think about it. Relationships and romance is so much different than I ever could have imagined as a 7th grader, but I'm glad that we change and develop. Otherwise, I'd still be keeping my eyes peeled for a real life Landon Carter and we all know there's no truth to that Nicholas Sparks concept.

March 9, 2015

life lately

Do you ever have those moments where you feel like you've finally caught up on everything only to feel like you're in so far over your head the next moment? That's been my life lately. It's not a bad thing- it's just a busy thing. I'm learning how to prioritize, how to say no, and how to properly use my planner. If I didn't have those things, I would be in serious trouble. School is absolute bonkers right now, but only seven more months until I have three little letters to add behind my name! I've started spending about ten hours a week doing counseling and group therapy at a drug/alcohol rehabilitation facility. I am absolutely LOVING it. You guys, my first day was so intimidating, but I feel like this is such a good place for me. I have to complete a total of 500 hours and it's something I'm actually really excited about.

Life hasn't been all business lately, there's been some seriously fun moments- like Sundance! I realize that I never blogged about it, but better late than never, right? My 27th birthday was at the end of January and my best friend Summer invited me to come join her, her boyfriend, and some other friends at Sundance. Her boyfriend is a film maker and had a documentary debuting this year. I got to see a rough cut of the documentary last September, but it was such an incredible experience getting to see the film all finished & polished on the big screen at a major film festival. The film, Beaver Trilogy Part IV, is such a moving exploration into that little desire to be famous that we all have in us. I'm so proud of all Brad's handwork, and I'd encourage you to look into the story of the Beaver Kid, you won't regret it.

In addition to seeing Brad's film, we went to some fun parties, concerts, and saw several other movies. My favorite movie, by far, was "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl." We saw that film the morning of my birthday and I simultaneously laughed out loud and cried like a baby. It was beautiful- the movie, not me. I am sure I left a lot to be desired in that moment. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl got picked up for $12 million dollars by Fox Searchlight, which is the most a Sundance film has ever been purchased for. It's going to be released in major theaters on July 1st of this year, so do yourself a favor and see it. I'm definitely seeing it at least once more, if not five thousand times.

We were guest listed by a friend at the Sundance TV lounge for the Allen Stone concert. I had never heard of Allen Stone before that evening but you best believe he's been in heavy rotation since that night. He is crazy talented. You couldn't help but move during the concert, it was such a fun environment. Plus, one of the sponsors of the lounge was Brookside so you know I had a ton of fancy chocolate covered berries. The same friend that guest listed us was actually the producer for this event and gave me a ton of chocolate for my birthday. Chocolate covered acai berries for daaaaays. 

My friend Laura, who is the baker at my favorite coffee shop, made me this delicious cake version of my favorite cupcake for a little get together that some girlfriends threw for me. We chatted, ate, and then played croquet. I came in dead last (which is rude of them to not let me win on my birthday, but oh well), but still enjoyed playing. Spring has arrived early this year and I am not taking it for granted. We're supposed to have weather upwards of 70 degrees tomorrow. Thank you global warming. 

My sweet, sweet Marm and little sister Sophia came to visit last week. We spent time visiting some local colleges and I got to show them my favorite places. It would be so much fun to have my little sister come up here to college. I'm trying to be super neutral and encourage her to make her own decisions, but inside, I'm totally rooting for Idaho. One of my favorite parts of my Marm coming to visit is exploring all of the local antique shops with her. She's a huge fan of antiquing and has filled our home with so many treasures from all over. I love it. In addition to finding treasures, you also ALWAYS find creepy things, like this baby. It's the worst thing I've ever seen. Help. 

That's what's been happening in my neck of the woods recently. Lots of busy moments, but also finding the good and restful moments where I can. What have you been up to? Are you living in snow or has spring sprung early for you as well? Also- TONIGHT IS THE LAST NIGHT OF THE BACHELOR. SO many thoughts to be blogged later this week. 

February 20, 2015

on regret and remembrance

My grandmother passed away in November of 2014. It was unexpected, it was shocking, and it still catches me off guard. There will be a song or smell or something that will make me remember her and then when I remember her, I remember that she's gone.

Growing up, my grandmother was one of my favorite humans. She had this beautiful house in San Clemente, California that I loved visiting her at. Her house backed up to a golf course and I grew up fishing golf balls out of the bushes, washing them in her bathroom, and selling them back to golfers. She would always collect them for me and encouraged me in my little entrepreneurial efforts.

GT in Waikiki in 1967. 
She would always take me for pie when I would come and visit. It was our little thing. Sometimes we'd eat it in the restaurant and other times we would take it back to her house, eating it in bed while watching television shows like Golden Girls and Unsolved Mysteries. I don't remember what she would order, but I would always get Dutch Apple. I would take pie over cake any day of the week and I think that love started on those pie dates with Grandma. 

My grandma's life turned out to be a lot different than she imagined. She found herself divorced with three young children in the 70's, got remarried in the 80's to the person I grew up knowing as my grandpa and while he was a fun grandpa, he was not a good husband. They divorced and she remarried a childhood friend in the late 90's. He was a safe man, but he was not a warm man. Her marriage with him put somewhat of a wedge between her and her grandchildren. It was not terrible, but he wasn't the easiest or most comfortable man to be around. He was an old cowboy. What he wanted was peace and quiet, which isn't exactly something that grandchildren are great at. 

Years later, they experienced some financial troubles, he developed Dementia, and eventually, she moved in with my parents while he moved into an expensive facility. This happened while I lived in Korea, and I think I resented her a little bit because it was inconvenient, she even moved into my old room. This whole situation did something to me that I'm not proud of- it made me ugly inside. It made me short and generally unkind to my grandma. I wasn't terrible to her, but I wasn't gracious and compassionate with her. I never empathized with her and that's something that makes me so sad. Even as I write this, tears are rolling down my face because I wasted so many opportunities to show God's love to someone that was in such an uncomfortable situation.

GT on her 72nd birthday blowing out the candles on the "Better than Sex" cake she requested. Typical GT.
One of the last times I interacted with my grandma was in October. I had flown to home to go on our annual family vacation to Mexico. The day that I was supposed to fly home, my grandma asked my mom if she could come to the airport with us and take us both out to lunch. I told my mom, privately, that I'd like to see some friends in San Diego and would like to spend some time alone with her instead of sharing that time with my grandma. That was my last interaction with my grandma. She died several weeks after that and all I could think of was how selfish I had been. I was so unwilling to be flexible and to love this person who had always shown me love.

My grandma was a story teller. You mostly never knew if what she was saying was entirely truthful. She loved to exaggerate things and the truth would always become buried in whatever story she was telling. It was something we made fun of and was hilarious, but I think part of it was her desire to believe the best in people. To my grandma, I was the funniest, smartest, most beautiful girl in the world. She believed all of those things. To her, they were biblical truths. 

I'm terrible at impressions, although I like to think I'm the next Dana Carvey. The only impression I can do, that is actually on point, is my impression of Ethel Merman. My grandma loved this impression. It would send her into a giggle fit where nothing could be heard but honks, gasps, and old lady wheezing laughs. I wish that I had the opportunity to do this for her again. It made her so happy, and I didn't spend enough of my time with her trying to make her happy. 

It's been three months since my grandma passed unexpectedly and I'm still not over it. She wasn't old, she wasn't unhealthy, and it just doesn't seem fair that someone should have a stroke and die without there being any warning, without me having the opportunity to wrap my mind around everything. I wanted more time although I didn't even realize that until it wasn't an option any more. 

I'd like to live with no regrets, but at this point in time, I regret so many things about the way I treated my grandma over the past couple years. I regret not loving her as much as I should have and not showing her grace and compassion in the moments where she needed it the most. I know that she knew how much I loved her, but sometimes I wish that I could just remind her. I wish I could thank her for being my biggest cheerleader, believing the best in me at all times, and teaching me that pie was always a good choice. 

February 3, 2015

vacuums are bad for your emotional health

As I was walking around Target this morning, I found myself staring at the vacuums. For the past two years, I've been borrowing one of the dorm vacuums to use in my apartment. Much to the surprise of no one, these don't work too well. I've cleaned paper out of them, enough bobby pins to provide every human in the world with at least five, and even several socks. I understand sucking up the occasional bobby pin, but a sock? I'm just not sure how that happens.

I just received my tax return back and thought now would be a good time to get a vacuum of my own, one I don't have to share with 175 girls and one that will never suck up a sock, ever. I was reading the labels and comparing brands when I suddenly got overwhelmed with sadness. I realized that I had never thought I'd be buying a vacuum. In my mind, a vacuum was something I always thought I'd receive as a wedding gift or purchase with my husband. I never saw myself being single, twenty seven years old, and buying a vacuum in Target while simultaneously fighting back tears.

That might seem silly to some, but I know that it resonates with others. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I'm unhappy with what my life looks like. I'm not walking around in this perpetual state of sorrow, I'm not putting my life on hold, and really, I'm quite happy most of the time. I think in that moment, as I stared at the row of vacuums, I realized that my life looks different than I thought it would at this age and sometimes that's something that I needed to mourn.

In my young mind, I expected to be married by age twenty seven. For some reason, that age has always been in my head because it's the age my mom had me at. My life looks a lot different at twenty seven that I had anticipated, and I don't want to make it sound like it's a bad thing. It's just a thing. It's just a weird thing that I hadn't expected to think about. When you're younger, you have all of these assumptions about what your future will look like based on what everyone else who is older than you is doing with their life.

I know that there are good marriages, there are bad marriages, and everything in between the two. I don't idolize marriage. I don't have any expectations that marriage makes life so much more rich and fulfilling. I don't think it's this magical thing that happens and then everything is sunshine and rainbows. I know that it's not. I know so many people in wonderful marriages and I have friends who are in bad marriages. It's not about longing for some false belief or expectation for what marriage does, it's about allowing myself to be okay with what I wanted, what I still want, what I do have, and what I don't have.

I know that I'm young. I know that I have so much life ahead of me. I don't write any of this for any sort of reassurance or a compliment. I write this because I found myself genuinely sad as I picked out a vacuum, realizing that I had expectations that weren't met. Most of my friends are married with children. It's hard to not sometimes feel left behind when people surrounding you are experiencing these things that you want and that your heart truly desires. Maybe it feels so real and potent today because it's raining, or maybe it's because I just had a lovely weekend and came back to real life yesterday, or maybe it's because sometimes there's a disconnect between, I want and what I have, and I had to be a little sad about it.

I did end up buying a vacuum. I got some brand that was on sale that promised to rid my entire house of all pet hair. I don't have any pets, but I do have a ton of hair so I figure it's pretty much the same thing. I'm going to put it together in a few minutes and then I'm going to vacuum. I'll be so excited about a clean floor that I won't even remember my little existential crisis in Target. Or, I'll just end up crying over all the pieces of the vacuum that need to be put together and never end up actually vacuuming. You never know, it is a rainy Tuesday after all.

January 22, 2015

thou shall not stress

Recently, I've been feeling more stress than normal. It's not that there's more stress in my life, it's that it's been manifesting itself in a more real way than it does previously. Wanna know how I know this? GRAY HAIRS. Come on. I'm not even twenty seven. This whole gray hair business is just downright unfair. I should be able to bill the universe for costly salon visits. Instead of sending invoices tied to balloons, I've my extensive experience of being stressed to come up with a little list that's more helpful than balloons. Unless it's popping balloons- that always works.

1. Take a bath.

I'm a HUGE bath person. I take baths on the reg and love it. It's not my go to way of cleaning myself because let's be real, it's a dirty little pool. I'm a huge fan of showering and then bathing (can't be too clean) or just drawing up a hot bath and soaking till I'm a little old prune. Adding epsom salts or bath bombs (from Lush, for sure) is a great way to draw out toxins or just have a really delicious smelling bath. Just beware- Lush's bath bombs can usually turn your tub super fun colors, but you'll probably want to clean it afterwards. My whole tub was purple last night, but I was completely relaxed. I'd call that a win.

2. Lavender Oil

I can't sing the praises of Lavender Oil loudly enough. I swear by this stuff. I keep a roller ball of lavender and carrier oil in my purse at all times just in case I can sense myself getting anxious or stressed. When that happens, I put a little oil on my hands, rub it together, and then cup my nose breathing deeply a handful of times. It's become part of my daily life and sometimes it's just because it smells so dang good. Every night before bed, I rub the oil on my feet (your feet have such large pores on them so it just soaks this stuff up!) and put some right under my nose so I can smell it as I go to sleep. I have trouble falling asleep and it's been really helpful in lulling me to sleep in such a gentle way.

3. Dance It Out

There is nothing better than a quick dance party to (literally) shake it off. Whether you're alone or with a friend, I recommend cranking up the jams (I'm so hip with the hoppin' lingo) and dancing like an absolute fool. There's something seriously cathartic about a quick dance party. Some of my favorite dance jams are "Brave" by Sara Bareilles (especially if you're stressed or anxious about a situation!), "Octohate" by Ryn Weaver (gotta give old friends a little lovin'), or "Boom Clap" by Charli XCX. There's something about each of those songs that makes me tap my toes and and shake my groove thang.

4. Text "Your Person."

Yes, another Grey's reference, but come on, how could I not? My sister Camille is my person. We're similar in so many ways, but she's more outspoken and brave than I am in a lot of situations. I appreciate it so much because she can pull me out of stressful or emotional situations and remind me to have some perspective. She's also good at calling things like she see's them. When I'm stressed or scared, she's one of the first people I turn to because she's good at listening but also good at making me laugh and reminding me that everything really is going to be okay.

5. Journal

I believe in the power of writing. It helps me process through everything in my life, whether it be school, work, friends, or whatever. One of my favorite aspects of journaling is being able to go back through these little autobiographies and see just how faithful God has been. I remember journaling regularly in South Korea and speaking a lot of fears and stresses into those pages, but towards the end, everything came full circle. Writing through everything helps me keep things in perspective which is really helpful when I can easily succumb to an "EVERYTHING IS BROKEN AND WILL NEVER BE FIXED AGAIN" mentality. Some call that being a drama queen, I call it being a "feeler."

So next time, instead of weeping softly into peanut butter chocolate ice cream (WE HAVE ALL BEEN THERE), pick one of these little tips and let the stress roll off your back.
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