Perfect Follow-Up

Remember that article talking about how marriage isn’t for you? It made some seriously good points that I really enjoyed, but I  was left with a little bit of a nagging feeling. Like something was missing. This post responding to it hits the nail on the head and fills in the blanks for what the original author was saying by including a Biblical perspective on marriage. Awesome. 

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Forget Original Content

Shoot, guys. Forget me writing stuff anymore, I’m just going to link you to things that are pretty awesome. (Just kidding, I’m still going to bore you with long diatribes about my life, but this is happening now too)

To be honest, the name of the article almost kept me from reading it (I mean, seriously? Can you be more cliched?), but I’m glad I did. Ladies, this is the real deal. Men, take heed. 

Look out for part two tomorrow. If I remember…

Good Stuff From Around the Web

Came across this interesting post while browsing Facebook this morning and was struck by the truth behind it. As someone who typically prides themselves on being low key, this has been a difficult semester for me. I’ve admitted to feeling like I’m being “needy”, but in reality we all have legitimate needs that must be communicated. Key word, there. Communicate. Again and again, all good human interaction boils down to good communication.

Click here for the link to the article.

Let me know what you think!

Food for Thought

Food for Thought

This is an article I found while browsing Pinterest this afternoon (so what else is new? Tea, Pinterest, and the BBC is pretty much the norm for Saturdays in this apartment) and I thought it was pretty interesting. They share a lot of good thoughts about the connection between food and guilt that people often struggle with, and I would certainly be lying if I said that it was something I’ve never struggled with. My point in sharing this is not saying that everyone needs to jump on the “whole foods” bandwagon (although eating *more* fresh, unprocessed foods isn’t typically a bad thing…), just to bring to light a subject that resonates with me. 

Hope you think it’s interesting! (Click the text in blue to follow the link)

“I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection”

Stop and contemplate this for a moment. The more I think about this phrase the more I love it. It’s also really relevant right now.

This has been a somewhat tumultuous semester thus far, and allowing grace for myself has been difficult. Those of you who know me are aware that I hold myself to a (often unrealistically) high standard when it comes to academics, and other commitments that I have made as well. It is also difficult for me to admit that I am incapable of doing something without outside help. To make life even more complicated, I have a really hard time taking a step back when I’ve let myself become over committed. Did I also mention that I love having a long term plan in place? As you can see, quite the laundry list of issues.

At the beginning of the term I knew that life was going to be pretty crazy with all the commitments I had made, so I decided to proactively set up weekly counseling sessions for myself through my school. For some reason it seems like going to counseling is this taboo in our culture, which I am pretty positive goes back to the thing where we’re a super independent society as a whole. As you may recall, I am also guilty of the over-independence thing. Still, my line of reasoning was that these sessions would be a chance for me to vent about the stupid day-to-day things of life if nothing else.

You may want to know why life was going to be so crazy (you may already know if you’ve kept up with the blog thus far), so I’ll explain. This year I’m taking a full course load (plus one extra class) every term, working as a Resident Assistant, trying to determine my responsibilities as the president of a club on campus, and navigating this thing called a “relationship”.

Let me tell you: the first month was rough. Settling in to a new routine is always a bit difficult at first, especially when you begin adding entirely unfamiliar patterns. The first struggle I recognized in my life was a work/life balance. As an RA, you are always working. Now, you have your set responsibilities and duties that are scheduled, but you never STOP being an RA. If someone needs you, you are there for them. It’s kind of like parenting (I know, parenting is way more difficult and such, it’s simply a comparison). Can you draw a line? As president of this club I was working on emails in the middle of the night and constantly thinking of something else that needed to be done or someone else who I needed to talk to. Was this really what I had been expecting? The whole relationship thing is totally new to me, how does that work, what are reasonable expectations, and how does it work in a setting like this where my home is my work? So is a work/life balance possible?  (Are you tearing your hair out yet from all these questions?)

Counseling has been enormously helpful. The most basic thing it’s done is allow me is to be transparent about the fact that I need help, and it’s ok to ask for it. It has also been eye opening to see some the specific areas I struggle, and to begin looking at ways to correct these distorted thoughts. I’ve also been able to pick up some tools for dealing with stress and figuring out how to get to the bottom of my worry to discover what is really bothering me. So often the surface level things that we worry about are not the real issue, and once we are aware of that it is possible to begin taking that worry and handling it appropriately. Sometimes it’s as simple as changing how I talk to myself. Other times it requires some serious prayer and reflection, looking back at my true identity in Christ and knowing that these thoughts are lies with no foundation and no bearing on my security and worth.

I also went and talked to one of the staff members here at school who is a really awesome lady and who has a great work/life balance. We were able to have a great conversation and delve a little bit into what that could possibly look like for me, especially in the relationship area. The idea of setting up boundaries to protect our time together and not allowing anything to touch that was probably one of the most helpful things that she pointed out to me. We were also able to just have a good conversation and get to know each other a bit better, which I had been wanting to do for a while, so that was really nice.

When it came down to it, it was simply too much of a time commitment to remain in the position of club president. The amount of time required to effectively manage the group was more than I could allocate due to my commitment as a student, and secondarily as an RA. It was not fair to myself or anyone in the club to continue trying to do things when the realistic amount of work I could put into it was not going to be match the necessary amount of work. Stepping down was an extremely difficult decision, but I think the correct one. Admitting that I was incapable of doing this job was almost physically painful, but once it had been done it was so freeing!

Finally, you know that long term plan thing? You know how “the plan” was for me to graduate with an International Hotel & Tourism Management degree after spending a term in Italy? That’s not the plan anymore. The main campus of the university decided that they were no longer going to offer this program, and rather than phasing it out, this year is the last year that students will be able to complete the program. For many reasons I am unable to go to Italy this spring. The end result being that I am back to being a Hotel & Lodging Management major, and I will not be going abroad. Just reading the above sentences you may not get the feel for how heart rending this news was, but I will admit to being completely thrown for a loop.

I thought this was the path God had laid out for me for the next two years, I had some semblance of stability. Clearly, that’s not the case. I’ll be real with you: I’m not entirely sure what the lesson is in all this. I haven’t been able to figure out why this is happening, or if there’s some sort of grand lesson to be learned about it. Maybe stupid things just happen sometime. Maybe my life is going to take a dramatic turn in an entirely different direction. I don’t know. All I know right now is that I’ve readjusted my class schedule for the next couple years. There’s a lot of uncertainty in my life and I would absolutely appreciate prayers for peace while the dust settles.

In all of this, some lessons have been learned. Boundaries are healthy. Saying no is ok. Taking time out to get away for a little while is a good thing. Maybe it sounds weird to say, but sometimes being selfish is ok. You have to take care of yourself, or you won’t be able to take care of the things and people that really matter. Having priorities is important, it enables you to make decisions about how to divide your time and determine your level of commitment. But the learning isn’t over yet, so I’m afraid I can’t leave you with a pretty package tied up with a bow. I am a work in progress and will be until the day I die. I am looking forward to seeing what the next step will be and what direction it will take me, but I know that in the mean time I will not be perfect. Therefore, “I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection”.

As always, if you have any questions or comments just let me know 🙂

Playing Catch Up

I had some requests to tell you all about my adventures up in Wisconsin last week and then I realized…you haven’t heard from me since early March. Oops. So I’m going to try to get you caught up a little on what’s been happening since then. There is a lot of ground to cover, and I apologize in advance. Though to be fair, March through May is going to go fairly quickly.

Actually, we’re going to jump back to February for just a second because I am aware that I never explained anything about the NSMH National Conference that I attended. In the past, I’m fairly certain I’ve explained what NSMH is so I won’t get into that right now. If you don’t know, feel free to ask and I’ll give you more details. The conference was a lot of fun and a valuable networking experience. It was also a time to say goodbye to our chapter advisor, a professor from Johnson & Wales who was leaving our school to head up the Hospitality program at another university. The week after the conference was spent laying out by the pool with the family, bumming around Orlando, and going to my absolute most favorite restaurant: Cafe Tutu Tango (if you want pictures, I have hundreds. Sadly, not a joke). It was a good chance to unwind after a long semester, and get as much as sleep as possible before moving on campus and jumping into the Residential Assistant position for the next semester.

March was a blur of settling into a new living situation, learning about my responsibilities as an RA, adjusting to a new schedule, and developing some incredible friendships.

The first week of April found me fitting two weeks of school into one, while participating in Hospitality Week, and juggling midterms. Hospitality Week is hosted by NSMH every year during the spring trimester. It is used as a way to bring awareness to the Hospitality College at Johnson & Wales and NSMH through games, activities, and community service. The two weeks of school in one was due to the fact that the second week of April I headed down to Florida for Sun ‘n Fun, another fly-in that IAMA attends. It was also during this week that NSMH held local chapter elections. Although I was in Florida, the chapter allowed me to give my speech over the phone so that I could run for the position of President. Needless to say, those two weeks were very busy and a bit stressful. After surviving those two weeks, the rest of the term seemed a lot more simple.

May was a lot of fun. I went to see Iron Man 3 with my brother and one of his friends and a couple of my friends. For those of you Marvel fans out there, feel free to argue with me, but I would rank Iron Man 3 above the original, and possibly on par with The Avengers. Try to take me down on this one, I dare you. As the semester was winding down the NSMH board was reorganizing with the newly elected members learning more about their responsibilities for the next year, my new responsibility being the president of our local chapter. More on that later. Also in May I got to see the new film adaptation of The Great Gatsby. Oh my word.

I’m going to get all nerdy for a second, so bear with me. The cinematic style might not be one that everyone enjoys, but from an avid book lover’s point of view it was one of the most accurate book-to-film adaptations I’ve ever seen. A huge portion of the script was taken directly from the book, and it kept the spirit of the story, which means that it was absolutely tragic. To be fair, God was doing some work in my heart and opening my eyes to a lot of places where I was hurt, but something about that story just broke me. I spent the last forty-five minutes of the film in tears and couldn’t pull myself together until the credits were finished. It wasn’t until the next day that I realized exactly what it was about the movie that tore me up so badly. If you haven’t read the book, this part isn’t going to really mean anything to you (I would also recommend you read it immediately). No one in that entire story really loves anyone else. Not Daisy, not Tom, not Nick, not Jordan, not George, not Myrtle, not even Gatsby. Everyone is selfish, they act completely out of their own interest and never consider how their actions and desires will affect anyone else. That realization coupled with the heartbreak and sadness and disillusionment that I felt was, I think, the feeling Fitzgerald was trying to create through Nick’s narrative. See? Utterly tragic.

For a complete shift in tone, the next week was the end of the school year and meant that I was headed out to Colorado to be in Lynea’s wedding! The week leading up to the wedding was a bit of an emotional one. Finals are always stressful, and I managed to catch a cold in the middle of all that. Still, when all was said and I done I can say that it went smoothly and looking back it was actually a pretty good week. Once I arrived in Colorado it was a good opportunity to change gears completely and move out of school mode. Seeing Lynea again was so good, and being able to meet her now-husband David was great. It was a wonderful, beautiful, God-honoring weekend and I’m so glad that I was able to be a part of all of it.

The last week and a half of May was spent shifting into Summer RA/Nanny mode. As a summer RA I was able to move into the campus owned apartments just a couple blocks away, so I was able to stay up in Charlotte for the summer. It’s strange, I honestly didn’t realize it until I got back from Wisconsin on Sunday and saw the city skyline as I was driving into the city, but Charlotte has really become home to me over the past few months. It’s a place where I feel comfortable and I know it’s exactly where God wants me to be for the moment.

It’s really neat to be able to look at the nannying job I had over the summer and be able to say that it was totally a God-provided opportunity. There was some traveling that I had to do and wanted to do over the summer that coincided perfectly with dates that the kids were going to be gone and they wouldn’t need me. The last week of June and first week of July the kids were gone and I was able to travel up to the Raleigh area just for fun, and then go out to Arizona for a family reunion. It was so good to be able to visit Tucson again (it had been four years since the last time I visited) and see family. We enjoyed catching up and spending time together at a house up in the foothills, and on the 4th of July we were able to watch about eight different fireworks displays over the entire city from a distance. We also enjoyed visiting Eegee’s and El Guero Canelo, a few restaurants that are family favorites in the area. It was a lot of fun and hopefully it won’t be quite as long before I get out that way again.

Skipping back to mid-June, I was able to go see Man of Steel on opening night. In case you haven’t figured it out by now, movies are kind of a “thing” for me and typically if I’m going to see a movie in the theater I’ll go opening night so no one else can spoil things for me. Typically I’m not a big Superman fan, but I like superhero movies and Christopher Nolan was producing it, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Man of Steel was more of an origin story, and it kind of made me like Superman. The last half hour or so dragged a little bit (that might have been because I was getting tired, but I think it’s mainly because all that was happening was a bunch of buildings got destroyed), but overall I enjoyed the film. Will I see a sequel? Probably, but I doubt I’ll see it in the theater. The main thing I enjoyed about the movie was not Henry Cavill as Clark Kent or Russell Crowe playing Jor-El, it was the theme of identity that ran throughout the story. SPOILER ALERT (if you haven’t seen the movie skip this bit, ok? I don’t want you blaming me for ruining things, blah blah blah): There’s a powerful moment when Clark Kent discovers his true identity as Kal-El, son of Jor-El, and learns why he’s on Earth and why he has these powers. He also has a decision to make about his identity and his powers: will he continue to hide his true nature, or use who he is to help the people around him? I’m a bit critical, so I’m simply being honest when I say that the amount of symbolism was a bit on the cheesy side. Time Entertainment describes the film as a “psychoanalytical case study of god-man with a two father complex” (complete review at: http://entertainment.time.com/2013/06/12/man-of-steel-super-man-or-human-god/). However, the idea of identity is still a powerful message and one that resonates with me.

Back at Capernwray (remember that time I went to England and studied the Bible for a year? See posts September 2010-June 2011) one of our speakers talked about identity in one of his lectures, and it’s a message that has really stuck with me for the past several years. He talked about the passage in John where Andrew brings Simon to Jesus. It’s one verse, but it is powerful when you break it down.

“And he (Andrew) brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas’ (Which, when translated, is Peter).” -John 1:42

Jesus looked at this man and told him where he came from (son of John), who he is (Simon), and who he will be (You will be called Cephas). Jesus knows each one of us in this way. He knows our past, our present, and our future. According to Ray Andrews, one of the other lecturers at Capernwray, everything in our life revolves around our identity. It’s what drives us and forms our beliefs. So to be aware that our identity is defined and known by God is an incredibly empowering thing. When the God of the universe provides your sense of worth, it really doesn’t matter what people think. Kind of puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? All in all, God has been working in my heart and continuing to affirm me. The end result is that I’m more comfortable and confident about who I am, which allows me to better fulfill whatever purpose and plan He has for me.

Phew, I didn’t mean to jump off on such a rabbit trail about all that, but it’s been bouncing around in my head for a while and it had to get out there sometime.

So back to July! After I got back from Arizona I spent a couple more weeks nannying and then it was time to jet off to Wisconsin for EAA’s AirVenture 2013. You may remember that I’ve spent the past year working with IAMA as an event coordinator, helping to plan their presence at Sun n Fun in Florida and AirVenture in Wisconsin. Well, this was the week where all the planning finally came together.

I flew up to Wisconsin a few days early to be there to help manage the set-up and arrival stages of the various organizations that were exhibiting in our tent. It was a fun (and very cold! Temperatures were hovering in the 50s for the first couple days I was there. Yikes!) time to catch up with people I had developed relationships with the year before. I was able to stay with the same woman who hosted me last year, which was really nice. We spent most evenings chatting about the good old days, watching classic movies, and eating ice cream. It was also a good opportunity to have some great conversations with new people in the hospitality tent where we ate our meals during the day and hear some incredible stories of God’s faithfulness and the work He has been doing in people’s lives. Overall, it was a great week, although a little bittersweet. The way things have shaped up for this coming year I won’t have time to continue my work with IAMA, so I knew this was likely the last time I would see many of these people.

I think my favorite part of the week was actually Friday night. One of my mom’s friends from back in Tucson when she was growing up lives in Wisconsin now and invited me over for dinner. It was nice to take a break from a huge crowd of people and get to spend time with a smaller group. It also gave me a chance to share in-depth a lot of the things that God taught me while I was at Capernwray. After sharing about all that, the first time I had really done so in person with someone I didn’t know well, I came to the realization that God has really brought me a long way from where I was three years ago. Talking about my feelings and showing emotion has never been something that came easily to me, and then with all of the events from a few years ago I really shut down that part of me. Those of you who have known me for a while can probably attest to that. However, the past few months have shown an incredible change. Sharing what’s in my heart and on my mind, being emotionally vulnerable with people, has become a bit easier. It’s another step in the healing process for me, and I’m excited as well as nervous to see what the next step is going to be.

Speaking of next steps, let me give you a quick outline what this next year is going to look like. Starting August 21st I will be participating in RA Training here at JWU. That will run until the beginning of the semester when I continue working as a RA, but this time in the campus owned apartments. These apartments mostly house upperclassmen, which means I’ll be dealing with a different set of issues from in the dorms. In addition to working as a RA, my involvement with NSMH will continue, now in the capacity of president. Those are the big things, until the spring term when I go out on my first internship! My first internship will be local, so I will continue living on campus and functioning as a RA and president of the local NSMH chapter. It’s going to be a busy year and I would appreciate prayer for good time management. In addition to this, I’ve applied for multiple (something like 15) scholarships. We’ll have to see what happens there.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read through all of this and thank you for keeping up with me and letting me share what’s been going on in my heart and my life. If you have any questions or comments I’d love to hear them.

Hopefully you’ll hear from me a bit sooner next time!