Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in review -- mostly in pictures.

2013 is going away.

What a year it has been.
I've become a MAJOR nerd. Like, you have no idea how much school is bringing out my quirkiness. All of this intense gaining of knowledge can't be good for one.


While I have largely neglected blogging save to post about the "stresses" of my life (blogging is a lovely outlet) there have been many great things to happen too. I will do a countdown of the interesting/important/not-so-important life events thus far:


I learned to grade essays.
In the spring 2013 semester, I was able to TA for my advisor. (If that doesn't get brownie points, I don't know what will.) It was an interesting experience, especially in what was my second semester at college. I graded ~ 250 papers over the semester and gained a whole new appreciation for teachers everywhere. To give a fair, thoughtful grade requires quite a bit of work, especially when one is grading opinion/persuasive essays. It also allowed me to see what some college kids feel is acceptable. Is there hope for the future?

I fried bugs for 100 students. 
bug stir fry!
I TA-ed for another class the Fall 2013 semester. It was hands-on, lots of demos, and so much fun. It took quite a bit of effort, but I gained a great appreciation for what professors and their TA's do.


I assisted with research projects.
JACKPOT!
Over the summer, I worked with two students on their master's research projects. I learned so much from helping them out with their projects. Before, I didn't really know what went into being a grad student, but this experience made me see that I would probably very much enjoy this sort of thing. 

Dare I say it? ...I'm excited for grad school.

I am finished with Organic Chemistry. 
FOREVER AND EVER. I am so joyful! I was never so glad for a C+ in my life. 

I now have a job in an analytics lab! 
Major nerd excitement.
My bench.
I'm learning to operate one of these:
HPLC machine
I'm learning the science jargon for simple things. I guess it's the way scientists weed out who actually "knows the lingo" because really, the stuff I'm doing isn't terribly complicated. There's something somewhat amusing about attempting to explain what exactly one has been working on in lab. People tend to glaze over and smile politely. I've learned how to communicate my research somewhat simply.

I got this fortune cookie after I had spent all day frustrated in lab: 
It gave me HOPE. 

I will interrupt my list by the realization that most of my major activities for 2013 were academic.
It's a bit depressing that I've dedicated so much time and energy to school. 

I know that this year was one of the most stressful heretofore.  
I had to learn coping strategies.  
I'm learning to deal now by living one day at a time, living in the present moment.

I've whined written plenty about it, let's move on.

 There were other things I did, just let me think…
Ooh! I learned to dance.
I adore dancing. Salsa, swing, shag, waltzing. I wish there was more time for it. So that's something new.

I learned to wait tables.
As silly and simple as that sounds, I had never experienced this sort of exhaustion before. It's not so much the physical exhaustion [though my forearms could potentially rival Popeye's at this point from lifting trays] as it is a mental head game. I am an introvert, so walking up to countless seated strangers, attempting to be likable, and asking what they'd like to eat and try to accommodate their every need (without hovering too much) left me drained at the end of my shifts and zombie-like. When you work for ~$2/hr, you very much hope you do nothing to peeve the customer.
I appreciate good service so much more now.
And over the summer, I gained regular customers! I consider that a win.
I have humorous anecdotes as well from serving. At some point, they'll be relayed.

I went outdoor rock climbing for the first time. 
annnnd I loved it.


I am still trying to learn to play music.

I began to learn the mandolin, and I've been playing my other instruments off and on. Music is so incredibly soothing. Maybe someday I'll play in front of people.

I tried to go on new adventures whenever possible. 

I have gotten so many neat experiences in. 
The longer I sit here dwelling on the past year, the more wonderful times I remember. 

What a fantastic gift life is. 

So here's to 2013. 

Who knows what 2014 will hold? 
Always there will be adventure. 

“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.” 
― G.K. Chesterton

Friday, December 13, 2013

OVERTHINKING

I've not blogged blogged in a while, which saddens me. I wish I could better articulate my experiences, thoughts, and emotions.


But I have a difficult time of it; I have been occupying my mind with other things. Many of them are dull but necessary -- general education courses, ugh. 
Sadly, my brain can only handle so much before it feels saturated with information. When this happens, I want nothing more than to do something mindless (what I am doing right now is veritably mindless. Basically a train of thought without completion...)

 Part of me wishes for the days when I had seemingly endless time to think; then again, when I had room to think, I didn't have the ability to act upon my conclusions. An education will open so many doors.  

However, I enjoy thinking when I can; just having time to sit and ponder. I like marveling at the complexity of the world, the intricacies of life, the WHY.

I've been told I think too much. Is that possible?



Reading is something I love and haven't had much time for. Over thanksgiving break, I read 4 novels over the course of the 3 day break. I hadn't read for fun in ages; I found once I started, I was starving for the written word.



Also, I used to think I was one of the people who was good in the spotlight, who liked attention. I do, but not in the extrovert way. I'm "shy" and I don't understand it.

While I'm good in small groups, I am terrible in front of "crowds". Every time I've been put in front of a group of over 50 people, the floor becomes INCREDIBLY FASCINATING, my knees shake, and my speech increases speed. 

This is something I must overcome.

I've ben realizing I like to observe. I like to be the one behind the camera, the one who gives perspective in my own introverted way. 

Is this an excuse for not participating? 
Probably.


Monday, December 02, 2013

BAH HUMBUG

It's here!

Christmas music.
No.
Please no.

I don't want to hear those tunes, those repetitive songs replayed year after year.

It's like new Christmas music isn't even written anymore. A few songs have come out, almost all of it is the SAME. The same sound, that genre that sounds stuck in the time when synthesizers were just discovered and so OVERUSED.

While I love to remember Christ's birth and God's goodness, I don't WANT to hear songs about white christmases, wanting someone for christmas, or shoes.
Maybe the week before Christmas I'll play some tunes, but not now.

NOT NOW.

Sorry.
Apologies for my tirade. I know multitudes are thrilled it's on the radios.
I have my own music to listen to with earbuds.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

defeat?

Yes.
I know I have it good. My cup of blessings are overflowing.

I know I take too much for granted, and that I really have little excuse for this feeling.
My list of responsibility is short.

But life is wearing me down.
I can't do it.
I don't want to.
I feel like a petulant child or a lazy slug.

But maybe that's the point.
I can't keep this up.
I'm filled with dread and defeat. A taste of failure and I feel I've failed at everything.

I need priority.
I need focus.

I need rejuvenation.

I think all of this, all of my feelings of utter inadequacy are to remind me to draw near to my power source, to the one who promises He is with me always, even to the end of the world.
The one who promises that His yoke is easy and His burden light.

The one who reminds me I am to work at things wholeheartedly, as if it is for Him.
The one who tells me I'm even more than a conqueror in Him.  

You'd think I'd learn my lesson and remember that my identity is supposed to be Christ. My power source is Christ.

All things through Him and by Him.

I'm a slow learner.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fall break 2013

It was Saturday, a day calling for 0% rain, warm weather and a good football game.
It had misted all day. The sky was grey and overcast. My dad and I had attended a football game and were trudging back to my car from the stadium.
To avoid the $20 parking costs, we had parked about 3/4 of a mile away from the arena.

As we walked back from the game, I checked my pockets to fish out my keys.

They weren't there.

No need to panic though.

I checked my purse.

The purse yielded nothing.
I hadn't yet reached full-panic mode. I asked my dad if he had the keys on him, I could have handed them off. It was very possible.

Nothing.

Now I started to worry. We were already halfway to the car, and I had no idea where my keys were. I was just in a stadium milling with thousands of other people. The route we had walked from the car was closed off, so there was no option of retracing my steps.

I hoped against hope that my keys would be near the car, that I had dropped them within a 10 yard radius of the car. As we approached, my mind was racing. When did I have my purse open? At what point could the keys have fallen out?
I spotted my car and ran to it. I peered into the cab. Everything looked normal, no keys in the ignition though. I walked in a spiral pattern around my car, scanning the grass. Dad checked the nearby bushes.
And THERE THEY WERE. Dad had found my keys!

Oh, was I thankful.

It was getting progressively darker out, and still misting. I hurriedly tried unlocking the door.
Nothing.
If it wasn't one thing, it was another. My car is "old" (1997 Chevy Lumina), old enough that it doesn't have a remote to unlock it. In fact, it requires 2 keys: one for the door and one for the ignition. I have no idea why this was a thing back in the day, but it was.
I have had some issues before with unlocking the door.
I tried the door again.
...third time's the charm? Nope.
I tried the passenger side.
My car was being such a bother.
My dad examined the key. The teeth were worn down.
Could it be that the few hours in the elements for a had worn them down completely? Had someone filed down the keys and then put them back in the bushes? ...the mind goes to strange places when one is in a panic.

My dad then tried unlocking all of the doors carefully, trying to make sure the tumbler caught the ridges.
The doors wouldn't budge.
We stood back, bemused.

There aren't many tan '97 Chevy Luminas on the road these days. 


After a second, my dad looked at me.


"Makenzie...this is a LeSabre not a Lumina."

I had just spent a good 5 minutes trying to get into a stranger's car.

I am so glad they didn't walk up while I was trying to get into my their car.



It turns out that my car was 5 cars over.

aaaand unlocked no problem.

Then this morning happened. I rode in the back of a sheriffs car all morning.
Kinda long story, and I haven't the time to type it all out properly.
Soon.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Offering seconds to the girl with the full plate

The plate of my life is full.

I don't want to admit that I am even a little bit stressed out.
I can handle this.
I'm competent.
I refuse to acknowledge that maybe I am/was biting off more than I can chew.

Lately, situations have changed, making me almost feel uncomfortable in my own skin.  
I've been struggling to find a way to process the changes, the new events in my life, the new responsibilities.

I know that everyone at some point has to deal with this. I know I'm not unique in my struggle.

Most peers in college are dealing with the exact same difficulties.
I wonder though: how do they do it? 

My classmates are in the same boat and making it through just fine. I shouldn't be complaining.
At first, I decided to push off the stress and just plow through work. I felt robotic.
I knew eventually, everything would work out and I'd adjust.

And I am only 3 weeks into the semester.  I should be patient. But complete denial wasn't the right approach.

Over the weekend, it became very evident to me that my behaviour was that of a very stressed-out person. Things I was feeling/doing were so counter to my normal self:

I wanted isolation from almost everyone.
I snapped easily; I felt an edginess that was alien.
I felt prone to mood swings.
I couldn't focus and apply my brain.
I started to feel lethargic apathy. 
I would sometimes find myself needing a deep breath, as if I had been holding mine for a while.
I felt that a small event could push me over the precipice emotionally, and that I was set to have a breakdown.

All of these things are not me.
I normally love people. I love interacting with others and making new friends.
It used to take so much to peeve me; my tolerance levels were incredibly high -- all of a sudden it was like my nerves were worn thin.
I was (for a girl, ha) relatively mood-swing free before the semester started.
I am also (usually) highly focused, positive, and energetic.

I'm just beginning to recognize my issue for what it is: stress and anxiety.

I have grown up hearing that Christ tells us not to worry, that each day has enough worries of its own. Christ says I'm worth more than many sparrows, of whom God takes care of completely.
I know these things to be true.
I know I am a child of God and that He has got this. 
But at the same time...applications are difficult.

I'm still processing everything. I still need time to adjust.
I wish I could pause time and I could get used to all of the changes and then everything could pick back up.

Instead of building a time machine, I will probably be taking more time to pray, write, and think. I've found myself the past few days just taking time to sit and be, as cheesy as that seems. Time to just appreciate the beauty of the day. (Though I thought I was having a relaxing happy moment on a park bench beneath a shade tree in a garden last week -- I realized a few dozen bites later that the bench was covered with biting ants! haha)

And I'm going to make a conscious effort to make sure that God is at the center of my life. What else would be the point of living if not for Him?

All this to say, I don't have much figured out.
But that's what growing up is about.
I don't yet have a solid conclusion for this post, because I'm still in process of dealing with change.

But I feel that the recognition of it is a solid first step.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

forced rest.

Whenever I am sick, I become incredibly pensive.

...aaand I'm sick.

I'm sitting here with a glazed expression while my mind is churning. This cold has been growing for the past few days, and I've been trying a special method: the method of ignoring it.
...I'm learning quite literally that ignoring a problem doesn't really mean that it goes away. It's just made it worse.

Sickness is almost a blessing in that it forces one to slow down. Stop the madness of the scheduling, the homework, the work.
Stop it all and... lay in bed wishing to feel better.

I'd much prefer I was lazy by choice.

I'm notoriously a "never say no" person:

You need a co-chair? That's totally me. 
You need someone to lead this group? I'm your girl. 
You just need a volunteer for an event? No problem.
You need me to pick up an extra shift? Sure!

I have been realizing the downsides of being the yes girl. I'm realizing that maybe I shouldn't spread myself so thinly over life. But then again, what about carpe diem? What about making the most of every opportunity?

Recently I did turn down an opportunity.
I felt it was a pretty big step. It was hard, because it was an interesting lab and project to help with. I could have maybe squeezed it into my already-full schedule, but I knew if I had taken on the responsibility of being a research assistant in multiple labs, I would be absolutely miserable and I wouldn't do the best job.

I'm already a volunteer for a food science lab and TA-ing.

But wait, there's more!

 I've got a job lined up in October to work on HPLC in a biotechnology lab. And it's going to be a paid position (rare for an undergraduate position). I'm very thankful. So incredibly thankful, and I can't wait to learn and work with all of the shiny expensive equipment. To add to the blessing, it also doesn't start right away, giving me time to get into the rhythm of the semester.


One of my stress-management techniques is list-making. Mapping out the day, the week, the month. There's great comfort in knowing what's ahead. I like to plan and have a general idea of what's going to happen. But sometimes the lists almost hinder and I find myself engulfed in the trenches of the commitments I've made. I feel almost swallowed by the never ending list of to-be-dones, sometimes I lose sight of the meaning of life, the point.

Why am I even here?

What's the point?

Why do all of this?

As a Christian, my goal is Christ. My aim is to serve and please Him.
It is imperative for me to keep this in mind. 
My goal isn't a high GPA (though I strive to do my best).
My goal isn't to be the perfect teacher's assistant.
My goal isn't to be successful in the research/academic world. Or to be the ideal student/worker/human.
My goal isn't to just have fun while I can.

It's to live each day as it comes.

To live each day is to rest in the security that God won't give me more than He can handle and that He will give me the strength and discernment to get through all of this.
It's to delight in the blessings He gives -- be they big or small.
It's to appreciate the opportunities I have and grow to know God better.

I have a hard time keeping some of this in mind when I'm struggling with oligosaccharide chemistry and benzene ring EAS.

I write this post out to remind myself.
I need reminders that there's so much more than the present, but that I'm also supposed to live in the present.

I have much to update this blog with, but though I am sick, I have a stack of homework with my name and impending due dates. What joy!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer? Don't go!

People ask how my summer is going.

My initial thought (because I am a literalist) is that it's going much too quickly.

Already it's halfway through July, and I have a little over one month until school starts back.

One. Month.

At the end of the spring semester, I had a great many things I wanted to accomplish over the summer. And as I look at my checklist, I'm disappointed by the myriad of things I haven't done. 

But let's focus on the positives. Things I have done. 

At the end of the semester, I went on a little job hunt.

I was concerned about finding someplace to work.
I felt the definition of daunted.

When starting a job hunt, it seems like there are endless closed doors and yet at the same time, endless options.

Financial needs were starting to press in.  Then I had two car accidents. TWO within a few weeks of each other.

(I'm fine and the other drivers are fine, thank God! They were just annoying fender benders)

...it's a long story.  Let's just say that sometimes drivers don't know what a stop sign is, and they end up running it.

Running it straight into your front bumper. Oh yeah.


I was overwhelmed, but I felt very much that I needed to get a job.

Let me just plug in here that God is so good. Not to sound like a Holy Roller or anything, but there is such peace in knowing that I can just trust and not rely on my own strength.
I trust that He's going to open the doors and always make the right things work out. So I brought the request to Him. I prayed about applying to the right places. There were endless options, but soon it narrowed down to just two places.

One was a locally owned business, the other a corporate chain.
Both were restaurants. I figured I should try out the waitressing gig to see how I'd do. I've also heard that through such a job, one learns important life skills.
I worked in fast food in high school (excuse me, "quick service restaurant") and retail (yes, through Christmas. I have seen the horror that is Black Friday). Both jobs imparted some important life lessons.

Once I felt sure that these two options were to be pursued, I initiated the application process.

The corporate chain had me fill out hours worth of online personality surveys and paperwork -- just to see if I could get an interview. I did my duty, and a few days later got a generated email (you know, the kind with, "[insert name here], congratulations!") telling me I could proceed to the next step. ...step 2 of 40, or so it felt. By the time the email came, I already had a job.

After doing the surveys, I called the local place. They had me come in to interview that day. After talking to the owner for a few minutes, I was offered a job.

The decision seemed pretty cut and dry to me.

I understand that corporate chains are huge and that they have to have consistency in the hiring process. They can't just say, "you seem like a good person for the job, I trust your character, how about you come in to train and we'll see how it goes?"

I get that.
But I prefer the sort of work environment that's a bit more relaxed and trusting of human integrity. Also, my boss told me straight off, "I know you're a college student, so just let me know whenever you need off. Exams, homework, whatever it is school-related. I'm very understanding of that." 
How fantastic is that?
SO FANTASTIC.

I feel it makes for less stress and there's also the bonus of knowing that I'm working for a local business and not a huge chain with headquarters in some distant city. 

Waiting tables did have a learning curve.
From an outsider perspective, it doesn't seem like a terribly difficult task. Okay, it does.  I've had enough bad waitresses to know that there is some skill set required.

As I've worked, I am realizing all of the little details and thoughts that go into serving each table and creating a pleasant environment and experience for customers. My multitasking and hospitality skills are increasing, which is definitely good.

I find that while I usually come home drained, I love this sort of work. I doubt that I would make it my career, but it's a really great college job.

I'm very thankful.

Also this summer, since I would list off what I have done as opposed to beating myself up about not doing things, I've been assisting some great grad students in the Food Science Department. It's a wonderful opportunity to have some hands-on experience as well as see what it would be like to be a grad student. The two I'm working with are fantastic mentors.

Besides those two main things, I fill up the rest of my time with little hobbies. Running is something I've posted about often, but I've hit a sort of wall with it. I'm not sure why. I'm starting a new training regimen, and hopefully it pays off with increased stamina and improved form.

I'd go on typing, but the sun is out.
THE SUN IS OUT.
It has been raining and storming for the past few weeks almost every day.
I'd better take advantage of this sun.
...as soon as my headache leaves. It's a bit brutal; it feels like my brain wants to push out of my skull. Maybe my ego needs deflating. I don't know.


If you've read this far, you're most likely a wonderful person, or you're very bored.

Either way, I commend you.

If you're bored and don't want to move, watch Raising Hope, Pushing Daisies, Psych, Monk, Doctor Who, or Sherlock. Any of those are fantastic TV shows.

If you're bored but want to move around, go rock climbing. How I miss that sport.
Or go for a nature walk and bring a camera. You never know what small beauties you'll see. Cameras encourage you to notice small details.
And to reward you for reading SO far, here are some pictures I got with my phone camera while out for such walks.









Thursday, June 20, 2013

Segway.

In the past months, I've had many false starts on posts.

I sit, begin to type...


...and then my train of thought just fizzles out. I lose motivation so I give up.

I know that no one wants to read halfhearted writing. As a past paper-grading TA, I know the feeling very well now. [Though you aren't reading this to grade it, right? Hey, judgement-free zone.]

Now it's not as if I have a wide readership or anything (Hi Mom and three fantabulous people who read this!) however, the times I HAVE received fantastic feedback on posts have been the times when I have a odd nagging desire to just type the words out.
It's like the words ache to be written. ...I can't explain it without sounding loony.


Anyways, back on point: I just don't know what direction to take this blog.
It is so jumbled, so hodgepodge, it faces such an identity crisis. It fits into no nice little genre, save perhaps the idea that it's my thoughts typed out for an audience I can't see.



As I've considered moving the blog, revamping the blog, etc. (but never deleting it. NEVER) I've realized that this blog is a beautifully messy thing. It is a prime indicator of my growth over the past four (has it been that long?) years. It's a collaborative collage of the events of my life.

I think I am going to try to bring back more frequent blog posts. They're gloriously cathartic.

I'm not going to push them off on people too terribly much. Only if I think it's potentially a valid point will I say on facebook or twitter:

"Hey lookit! You guys, I wrote stuff! *insert link here*"

I do enough shameless plugging as it is.

But rather I shall just write for writing's sake. I write because in reading back through my posts I'm reminded of who I was, who I am, and who I hope to be. This is accessible anytime, anywhere by anyone (anyone with my URL and an ability to sift through long posts, that is)
 
Anyways, here's to reignition!

Cheers,

M


Monday, May 13, 2013

Taking the Credit?

I rarely ever am angry.
I am typically good at taking a step back, observing the situation, and logically calming down.

Yesterday, something happened that made me boil.
I knew I was going to erupt.
I haven't been so angry in ages. The feeling was strong. Even thinking back on it, I can feel my blood pressure rise.

It isn't so much what happened as what was conveyed by the actions.

This picture:
It's a puddle I inverted and added a filter to. It gave me joy.


I have a "friend".
He hurt me a few years ago by abruptly ending our friendship.
We were pretty great buddies, or so I thought.
We were even kinda "dating".

One day I got a phone call saying, "We can't date anymore. We can't even be friends anymore."

and that was all.


It was strange.
I was incredibly hurt.
I was angry, but mostly hurt. I trusted this guy.

In the following months, I learned real application of forgiveness.

After a few months, he apologized and we were moving forward in being amicable; we even became facebook friends again.  A small step, but a good sign.

As I type, I realize that this may all sound small and petty.
Life is so much greater and bigger than one little relationship and hurtful actions.
It amazes me that little things can make such a huge difference. I don't understand why my emotions are so strong.

Flash forward: on Friday I went out for a run -- it was glorious.
I came across a beautiful puddle.
I love puddles.
I took a picture with my phone, rotated it, added a filter, and texted it to some friends. I sent the before and after, to give some perspective.

That picture up above? That's the picture.
It made me happy, and getting positive comments from friends that it made them happy too was wonderful.

One friend, (you know that one who had hurt me), said it should go on reddit.
I didn't realize he was going to post it as me.
Yesterday, during a break at work (tangent: I have a job! It's hard work, and inconsistent scheduling every so often, but it's a good job) I asked if he had actually posted it. He had. So I asked for the link.

Amazingly, he had the brazeness to send it to me.

I read the title.


Instantly I thought, "oh DID you now?" (you can click the link above to see for yourself)

The picture had lots of wonderful positive comments.

He took the glory. 

He had the audacity to even post the before picture and detail the steps he had taken to edit it. 
  
I believe that credit should be given where it is due. 
I didn't know that I cared so much.

And I'm realizing that it isn't so much the credit-stealing as it is what is conveyed by the action.
I didn't know I would feel so violated. 

While I know that what comes around goes around, truth surfaces, and it's just one little thing, inconsequential really, in the grand scale of things...

it really really hurts me. 
Doubly so because I have a not-so-pleasant history with this guy and we were just starting to be amicable. It's like all of those old hurt feelings I had worked through are resurfacing.

By posting the picture like he had taken it, he was saying, "I am not concerned with your feelings, your ability, your work." 
It is something I would think that he would understand. 

He's trying to do art, so he better than anyone would know how he would feel about someone taking credit for a drawing he did. 

So how am I dealing with it? 
By blogging about it. 

It won't do any real good but typing out my emotions is cathartic.

My instant human reaction is to cut all ties, to rant.

But now I ask myself: is that the right course of action? 

I know it isn't, and it's a struggle to fight against this instant emotion. I rarely feel such strong anger.

I expressed my hurt and concern to the guy.
He has apologized. 
He deleted the post. 

And I suppose that there isn't anything else to be done but to forgive.

But I still have these residual emotions to work through. It seems so pat and simple in sunday school. 
"If someone does something mean, forgive." 

The application is hard.

I know I have to surrender this emotion to God. 
I know once I do, I'll feel so much better. 
When I leave things in God's hands, He always takes it and works it all out for good.

I know that God is in control. 

By holding on to my hurt, by indulging in my feelings, I am not acknowledging He has got this

I need to realize that this is an opportunity. An opportunity for a real-life (albeit small) application of my faith.

Turning the other cheek is such a hard lesson to learn.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

reflective

Sweet freedom.

As I reflect on the past few months, I realize how utterly burnt out I feel.
Not only about school, but at this point, almost about most life.

As I was walking to my final final this morning, it was drizzling rain. Bleary-eyed, I trudged through the mist; I looked up and around.

The clouds were parted just so. I could see the slightest glimpse of brilliant, glorious blue.
That fragment was somehow a source of joy and hope. A reminder that I was almost there. A reminder that above the day-to-day grind of life, there is so much more going on.


I am weary.
Life is always progressing and moving forward, which I am thankful for.
Every day is an adventure, which I love.
...but at the same time.
I would like some time to simply be.
 This is how I know I am an introvert: I require solitude. I love people, don't misunderstand.

My mind craves to have no real planned events, to ponder anything and everything -- my mind is very full.
It needs time to gear down and unwind.
It needs to write creatively.
It needs to read.
It needs to learn new music.
It needs to be utterly silly.

My body needs to run, to dance, to rock climb.
I am thankful for a school break.  A break from writing pompous-sounding papers, a break from memorizing facts, a break from following rubrics.

I love that I am blessed with higher education, and when I am recharged, I cannot wait to return and gain more knowledge.
My parents did a good job in instilling a love of learning.
But for now, I am glad to have some not-school time.

Sweet freedom.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Perfect Passage to contrast my Power to God's

This passage is PERFECT for what I've been pondering the past few days. 
If my hope is in the Creator, I have his unfailing love. I have deliverance from death.

I can go on, but you should just read the goodness for yourself:
 
Psalm 33
 
The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
    the earth is full of his unfailing love.
By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
    their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea into jars;
    he puts the deep into storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the Lord;
    let all the people of the world revere him.
For he spoke, and it came to be;
    he commanded, and it stood firm.
10 The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
    he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
    the purposes of his heart through all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people he chose for his inheritance.
13 From heaven the Lord looks down
    and sees all mankind;
14 from his dwelling place he watches
    all who live on earth—
15 he who forms the hearts of all,
    who considers everything they do.
16 No king is saved by the size of his army;
    no warrior escapes by his great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
    despite all its great strength it cannot save.
18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
    on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death
    and keep them alive in famine.
20 We wait in hope for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
    even as we put our hope in you.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Power Struggles

Almost a month since my last posting!

If I keep this up, all of my posts will be me apologizing or fussing about how little I post!

 So.

Instead, I'm going to write an update.

This blog, among other things, actually helps to keep me accountable. Something about writing out and processing what I'm going through and what I've learned is incredibly therapeutic.

Well what is new for me?

College.

I have learned some important life lessons through all of this.

This time last year, I was in Burundi (link to my travel blog! Shameless plug). I was totally reliant on God for everything. I was spiritually growing, my faith was strong.

I will say that trip was one of the most joyful times in my life so far.

I knew that where I was was exactly where God wanted me. I saw Him work again and again. When I prayed, He answered. Not only that, but His answer was above and beyond what I could imagine.

I experienced a freedom to serve Him wholly, without reservations.

Coming back to the USA, I've slowly become a slave of society again. I've slowly slipped into a self-reliant mentality...

It's worrisome.

I worry about being politically correct and sensitive.
I worry about trying to be the absolute best I can be.
I worry about making good impressions.
I worry about never saying no to opportunities and being socially active.

I feel that I need to do everything possible to boost my resume, network, and get that GPA up...
I've started to rely on my own power.

I'm borderline type A.

And guess what?

My own power??

It sucks out loud.

It's PUNY. It's ineffective.

In my own power, I stress out about what decisions to make.  I only have so many hours in the day!
I over-commit and try to be a super-woman. I want to please everyone. I inevitably become a doormat.
My health and mental-well being suffers.

In God's power, I know He will open all of the right doors at just the right time. He will provide for every need, and He ALWAYS goes above and beyond in blessing me.

In God's power, figuring out what to commit to is a non-issue. When I trust that He will take care of everything, I have peace and joy and the energy to do what needs to be done.

In my own power, I become easily insecure. I fret about image and appearance. Because of course, I need the approval of others. I want to be wanted and needed, but I fight the feeling that I'm really quite useless.

In God's power, I have approval. I have His unfailing and inexhaustible love. I don't have to seek out approval for my personal image, I'm secure in Him.
He gives me purpose.

It all boils down to my need to have some sort of control or power. I am realizing I can't be the one in control. It's impossible.

When I'm relying on Him, He's in control of the entire situation. There is no possible way that I can be in control of every variable, but He can.

The past few weeks I have increasingly been relying in my own power and I have been seeing how weak it really is. I have been stressed to the max.

Giving the control over to God is the best feeling.

I can't tell you how the stress has melted and how much peace I now feel.

The difference in the effectiveness of my power vs God's is like the difference between using a glowstick and an LED floodlight to light a trail in the darkness.


Friday, April 05, 2013

gray+dreary

Today is gray and dreary.

My curtains were drawn when I woke up; my room was dark.
Before I even opened my eyes, as my alarm was going off, I somehow knew it.

I knew that the weather was going to be of the napping variety. A day filled with warm jackets, steaming cups of tea and wishing I was able to be the slug I inherently am.

These sorts of days are the days that build character.

These are the days when one learns how to be responsible, adult-like, and productive in spite of wanting to curl up with a fluffy blanket and a good novel.

It was terribly tempting to sleep in.
It was terribly tempting to cancel the schedule of life for a while, to ignore the lists of to-dos and things-that-must-be-learned.
It was terribly tempting, but I didn't give in. Here I am at school and about to start the next lecture.

But this lecture will be entertaining.
It's about relationships.  Interpersonal Communications is the title of the course.

That class gets ridiculed frequently, but I find it does have redeeming values.

While I (and most people) intuitively know a few things about interactions with other humans, I like this class because it validates my actions and reminds me that I'm not so very different from everyone else.
...sometimes that is a very good feeling.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Shoe fetish? Me?

What's up for me?

Shoes.

I'm not quite one of those girls with 50+ pairs of heels (though I do like shoes).  And I don't typically ogle the latest trends in footwear, but

...the hobbies I am beginning to L-O-V-E require rather specific footwear.

First new hobby, ballroom dancing:

Latin dancing shoes. They're gorgeous.


Ballroom dancing is one of those things that I've wanted to learn. I'd love to be able to say I can do the cha-cha, rumba, east-coast swing, west-coast swing, blues, shag, salsa, meringue, waltz, etc (and I actually can do the basic for all of those named dances now! Super exciting)
I'm learning stuff, and it is addictive.

It doesn't hurt that one gets to wear pretty dresses and fancy shoes to do it either... 

It's one of the best destressers, AND it's a workout.
Pretty magical.



My next shoe purchase were these:

CLIMBING SHOES.


These are shoes that I have wanted since I first was introduced to the world of rock climbing as a kid, going to the gym with my parents.
These are leather and comfy and wonderful.

It helped that REI gave me my member dividends and I had a 20% off coupon. These babies weren't cheap.

Good shoes make a HUGE difference in climbing ability. I am quickly progressing my climbing level, as soon as my arms heal from over-use (I was a little over-exuberant...) 

The "downside" of climbing a lot (besides sore arms) is that EVERYTHING starts to look like a potential climb.
It could get dangerous...
My climbing professor, T-dash, thinks I have potential to be a professional climber. OooOOooh.

Like, you know, travel around to competitions, live in my old van down by the river, never have money, and live off of rice and beans.
I love T-dash. He's a hoot.


Anywho, both of these activities/hobbies I've picked up are amazing de-stressers.
They're also helping out with my social life (as if I need more of that. I have a tendency to be overly social...my schoolwork isn't always happy about it), as both require partners to complete.

They give a source of accomplishment, whether it's completing a climbing crux I've been working on or figuring out a new dance move.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

I'm a valentine grinch.

Valentine's Day is past.

**DISCLAIMER: this is a rant/realization**

I am finding balance in my emotions concerning that day.

This year, I saw my own hypocrisy in action. I saw how silly it was to be a cynic.

Admittedly, I can easily be cynical. It's a blessing and a curse, and I know I should be more prone to see the good in others.

The most annoying people during valentines are the people who whine about how corporate and stupid Valentines is. I was kinda one of those people.


But then I began to realize: despite it being a "hallmark holiday" and "mainstream" (yep, I'm gonna admit that mainstream things don't hold much weight for me), it's a perfect excuse to go above and beyond in saying to someone, "hey, you mean a lot to me."
It doesn't even have to be a huge effort. It can take all of 5 minutes to write a note.

You don't even have to have a romantic "valentine". You can still do something sweet for someone else.
I realized that if I think v-day is dumb, I shouldn't whine about it to others and I shouldn't try to ruin their fun.
Why turn down a day to celebrate love?

Next year, I shan't complain so loudly or audibly about the dumb corporations trying to dictate what and when I show love to someone.

...I still think that heart shaped balloons with feathers are horribly tacky, as are giant stuffed bears holding hearts, and those faux-roses that light up.
I can do without this
or this
ESPECIALLY NOT THIS. Balloon+ a random couple, or another picture... either way, it's bizarre.


...but that's personal preference.

Valentine's is a cultural tradition.

And honestly, deep down, I do enjoy it.

I love the flowers and the chocolates and the feeling of knowing I'm loved.


Also, right now, I'm so into bands that look like wandering vagrants.


Of Monsters and Men
Avett Brothers
Mumford and Sons
Imagine Dragons
Mat Kearney
....what gives?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

thought closet

I do wish thoughts could be more neatly organized. You see, I have a great many things swirling around my mind. I suppose it's better than the alternative...

During school, all of my ponderings get pushed back into an imaginary closet.

I must focus on subjects that somewhat/mildly/wildly interest me, and there's not a great deal of time for daydreaming.


Can you remember when you were younger, say 6 or 7 years old...

trying to clean your room because your mother told you to,

and you stuff everything on the floor into your closet?

(Okay, maybe you didn't do that. 

I wasn't really allowed to do that, but it didn't stop me from trying.)

I would end up pushing and leaning against the closet door, willing all of the miscellaneous items to squeeze in, waiting for that magical click of the latch securing.

Stepping away from the closet with a happy sigh, I saw another thing that I needed to stuff into the closet.

...because putting it back where it belongs is just silly. 

So, I made the error of reopening the closet door.

A pile of stuff flopped out. A horrid mess.

At that point, one of my parents would peek in to check my cleaning progress and tell me to clean up the right way. In a way that allows me to find my favorite toys when I would want them and allows for me to have clothing to wear.

Silly me.

Anyways, that's the current status of my thoughts.
I've squished them all together in an imaginary thought closet, and voila!

I'm all good, or so I think.

Until that figurative door pops open for whatever reason and I'm filled yet again with ideas and questions, in a greater volume and even more jumbled up than before.

It's dreadful.

I may have to become a semi-regular blogger again, just to get all of that thinking-ness out of my system.
Or blogging might make it worse.
I'm not quite sure.

Anywho, the current state of affairs is that I should be sleeping/reviewing notes for tomorrow but instead, I'm sitting and pondering a great many things, and, of course, typing about thinking about a great many things.

I'll leave you with a few quotes about love from a few of my favorite authors

(since it is valentine's day, officially.)

 “Love can change a person the way a parent can change a baby- awkwardly, and often with a great deal of mess.” 
― Lemony SnicketHorseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid
“You don't love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear.” 
― Oscar Wilde

“Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and a richness to life that nothing else can bring.” 
― Oscar Wilde

“Love is not a product of reasonings and statistics. It just comes-none knows whence-and cannot explain itself.” 
― Mark Twain

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” 
― Jane AustenNorthanger Abbey

“In love, as in life, one misheard word can be tremendously important. If you tell someone you love them, for instance, you must be absolutely certain that they have replied "I love you back" and not "I love your back" before you continue the conversation.” 
― Lemony Snicket


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Stress Sandwiches. Or Seas of Stress

Some days, I'm not exactly sure what I've been eating, because it feels like I have eaten a stress sandwich.
Let me explain this "stress sandwich", in case you wonder what kind of nutjob I am.

not LITERALLY


Going down, it's not so bad. I ingest a myriad of tasks, making notes of them in my planner. I feel like it's no big deal, and I'll get through everything just fine.

Once it hits my stomach however, I feel it...

THE STRESS.

The tightly wound feeling grows in the pit of my stomach, and I feel overwhelmed.

Sometimes there comes a point where I don't even want to function, but instead sit somewhere, trying to numb the discomfort by doing something mindless:
pinning stuff on pinterest,
learning new music,
*cough*...blogging *cough*

...forgetting that by doing nothing to work on my list, I'm only letting the stress build.

I've experienced quite a bit of stress over the past few days, trying to cope with understanding several concepts, getting things turned in on time, and preparing for exams (I hate the word "exam")

And then come complications.

A few social stresses were thrown in there too, for good measure.

It wasn't like a sudden hit, but more the rising tide, creeping up until I felt I couldn't tread water any longer.

Right as I felt I was about to go under, something happened.

Amidst my sea of stress or digestion of a sandwich, (I'm mixing up analogies now. I'm sorry, just pick your favorite) I heard a voice.

Not audibly, but a heart whisper, if you know what I mean. More like a thought came into my mind that I knew wasn't mine.

Here's what I heard:
"I won't let my faithful one see decay" 
WHAT.

I had no idea how this tied into my circumstance, and I was ready to dismiss it as a random thought (I have plenty of those) but this phrase repeated itself again and again, vying for my attention, it seemed. I'd be working on a task, and there was the phrase:
"Nor will I let my holy one see decay

This line played in my head. Completely out of the blue.

I know this sounds bizarre, but bear with me.

How did this tie into my life and why couldn't I put that phrase out of my mind?

I was just dealing with life stresses. Everyone has to deal with those.
I was sure that I just needed to grow a thicker skin and buy more sticky notes (sticky notes = super organized).

But this line peaked my interest (and it repeatedly came to mind). A google search of the phrase showed that the line came from Psalm 16, so I started reading it.

And this, my dear reader, is where my stress started turning into praises.

I got the coolest shiver.

IT WAS JUST THE SOLUTION I NEEDED. 

I can't describe how excited this made (and makes) me:
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
    you make my lot secure...
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

And the portion that popped into my head:

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
 nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
You make known to me the path of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

I am very sure I have shared this verse before, but it's not like I've memorized it (though I know I should)
It is a confirmation to me that I do have the Holy Spirit to comfort and instruct me just when I need it -- crazy and amazing as that is.

It is a confirmation that the Lord counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.

Things like this, small as they may seem, are the things that bolster my faith. I hope that someday my faith will be so strong that I remember to rely wholly on God, and not my own weak inabilities to "get things done" and be "competent".
And maybe next time, I won't try to ignore that persistent little voice. If I had read the passage sooner, it would have saved me the stress.


I am by no means one of the people who is always right on track and spiritually in-tune. I have a long ways to go; I have pleentyyy of struggles. I often wonder why God is so gracious and forgiving to me.

But this was one small instance that was incredibly encouraging to me, so I thought I should share it as encouragement for you.

If you've got God on your side...
He is not going to let you see decay.
He'll help you swim out of that sea of stress (or digest that stress sandwich).
On top of that, He's going to give you joy and security.

You will not be shaken. 


Monday, January 14, 2013

abandonment.

I've kinda abandoned the blog.
This post isn't about my own feelings of such.


So sorry, little blog.

It was unintentional, and while I've had plenty of good rants and observations built up, I have yet to post them.

I HAVE AN AMAZING STORY. But it will get posted later, because it needs a little work (e.g. I have to type it) 

I turned 20 (TWENTY!) one week ago, and while I know it is silly (especially to older people) to feel that this is a big change, it is a big change for me.
Not. A. Teenager. Any. More.

This was somewhat upsetting, but I am coping.

School is consisting of 18 hours of credit work, which I am finding to be manageable, AND all of my classes are interesting (which makes a big difference in manageability)

But it is only the second week, so I shouldn't speak too soon.

And I have had a lovely sort of surprise.
This semester, I am taking Organic Chemistry 1.
I heard horror stories.
I went in apprehensively.

BUT OH MY.
I love it.

I like drawing organic structures. It is like a fun puzzle.

But again, it is only the second week of classes.
We're still in review/baby steps mode. (and maybe I'm hyping it up a little bit to convince myself I can make an A)

I have recently had my suspicions confirmed that my thing is science.

I'm also getting to be a TA for the Intro to Nutrition course.
PAPER GRADING, YAY!

I am excited, though when I was grading sample papers, I found out that I was a harsh grader.

It just seems to me that once someone is IN COLLEGE, they should be able to use some form of acceptable syntax and KNOW when a sentence is run-on. They need to recognize subject verb agreement. They should know when they are making no sense.

...apparently not.
I'm a grammar freak. Even though I know that my own writing is rife with mistake, I can easily spot error in the work of others. It's terrible.

I'm a hypocrite.

I will try to relax my grading standards. It IS Intro to Nutrition and NOT an English class.
...I might still highlight mistakes so that the student is aware that I'm aware that they need to fix that.
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