Thursday, June 7, 2012

Up until recently, I never understood it. I never understood how writing could be daunting. Writing frees the mind and expresses what we're passionate about. Something magical happens when words flow, and have a rhythm, and come to life. It's an extremely personal process.

When I heard an accomplished writer say, "Writers will do everything they can to avoid sitting down and writing," I remember being confused. The thought of a writer who didn't want to write seemed a little pointless. Maybe this accomplished writer wasn't so accomplished after all.

But during my Journalism class last semester, it suddenly made sense: I never write on deadline, and no one else has to read what I write. I write on my own time. I write when I feel like it. And as we can see from the gap between last entry and this one, "when I feel like it" isn't very often.

It took me so long to get words on paper during my class that I didn't turn in a single story until the last week of school. We only had to write two stories for the whole semester---two feature stories at that! Features are coveted plots in Journalism real estate. But I just couldn't write.

Maybe it was because I knew it would take hours. I knew it would take hours to get one sentence. And I knew the sight of that stupid, blinking cursor would mock me until I got something out. But I just couldn't do it.

Instead, I did everything I could to avoid sitting down and writing---exactly like that accomplished writer said. I busied myself with other tasks, overcommitted to other papers and homework assignments, and did anything to distract myself from turning in a story.

It worked until the last week, too, before I had no other choice. I remember making an iced latte, heading outside with my laptop, and determining I'd stay until the article was finished. And I did it. After a few hours of writing and deleting, writing and deleting, I had an story that I was proud of.

And it was in that moment that I felt like an accomplished writer. It was in that moment that I flashed back to memories of high school Journalism, and co-editing our yearbook, and writing all the time, and remembered how much I love the process even though I also hate it.

I think every writer has to hit that sobering moment, too. It's because writing is so personal that it's so daunting. Turning in a story to your professor (editor) is like turning in a part of your soul. You've just spent hours writing and revising and being mocked by the cursor and sweating over each sentence and in an instant, that professor (editor) has the power to do whatever he wills with it. He could hate it and tell you to start all over again. (This has happened, does happen, and will continue to happen). He could think it's okay overall, but then take out the one part you thought was so good. Or, he could love it. But even if he does, there is always something that can be tweaked. Definitely daunting.

Like everything, though, writing is a process. And arguably, it's one of the most beautiful processes. The feeling I have after I write is like the feeling I have after a good piano performance. There is so much anticipation and hard work that goes into the process, and the process' entire fate rests in a few short moments. But once it's over---once the cursor has stopped blinking and once the last chord has struck---it's indescribable.

The love I have for writing is one of the most concrete passions within me. It's why I am only an English major now (and graduating in one semester), and why I really want to pursue Journalism as a career. The idea of de-cluttering sentences and reorganizing their structures excites me. If that isn't a clue that this whole writing thing isn't just something I do "when I feel like it," then I don't know what is. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Finding joy in the little things is the best.

This last week was insane




But I loved every minute of it.

It helps that my classes this semester are rocking my world, and that by the time 80 minutes has passed, I haven't even batted an eyelash at the seemingly magnetic clock in the back of the room.

It helps that teaching kids how to swim is something I love more and more every day, and I am in fact at the pool, every single day. (Let me say, though, that I wholeheartedly look forward to the time in my life where chlorine will no longer be my natural perfume).

It also helps that this week the music department went through yet another CD recording, and it was by far the most enjoyable one to date. It reminded me how beautifully rewarding it is to put your heart and soul into something; to go from classes, to work, straight to recording for 4 hours, but still go to bed with a smile on your face. Exhaustion definitely threatened to take over mid-week, but even then, the smallest conversation, the smallest shoulder-squeeze (unplanned alliteration!) by the person standing next to all just exemplified the tangible strength and love of Christ. This year was unlike years past for that reason.

Plus we just had fun. Yoga competitions...pizookies for 90, (well, now-vegan taste buds were
jealous for half a second, but then I just ate my salad) sopranos singing to the altos, tenors in (short) robes, hairy chests/legs and's all these little things that come together (!!!! that is totally a choir song, completely unintended) to make something bigger than just the task we set out to do. It's incredible to see how far it has all come.

Every semester brings with it a new challenge, or a new mindset, or an evolving goal, and although my track record with Spring semesters in the past hasn't been the best, there is something about this one that is sweetening any leftover bitterness I have towards the second half of the year.

It's often in busyness that the (good) little things become the (good) big things, and its in those moments we are lead into humility and thankfulness, which is exactly where I sit tonight.

Happy (almost) Superbowl Sunday!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Deep down, we all want to be great.

Granted, greatness is relative, but for each, personal, definition that "great" holds, there is a part inside of us that wants to achieve it.

Sometimes the pursuit for greatness is unintentional. We will gradually begin morphing our ideas, our values, and our dreams into one collective mindset that equals greatness, and it becomes who we are. It shapes us, and we may not even realize it.

Other times the pursuit is very intentional. We work our butts off to be great, and we know we're doing so. We put all of our efforts, our blood, sweat, and tears, into the one thing we believe will give us greatness; satisfaction.

That's the thing, too. We desire greatness because it gives satisfaction. It gives us a satisfaction in ourselves and our work--we accomplished something, we became something, we reached something.

In essence, none of this is a problem, either. It is good to have goals and it is good to achieve them. It is good to be pushed towards something more. But sometimes I wonder why we all do the things that we do. Even as I write this, I want it to be great.

We want our stories to be great. We want the experiences we share, the memories we make, the words we compose, to all be great. We begin to seek the approval of men in what we do, and based off that approval, or lack there of, the idea we have of what it means to be great transforms a little bit more.

I'm not even too sure what my point in all of this is, except that it's something I've been thinking about. I want to know that balance between who I am and who I still want to become. But I don't, under any circumstances, want it to be a selfish pursuit for what I believe is going to make me great.

I don't want to see someone else and their life and wish it was my own. I don't want to wonder why I am not a certain way or why the things that make me uncomfortable, make me uncomfortable. The reason we become insecure in who we are and the things we do, is because we begin to compare ourselves to people and lifestyles that, internally, we deem greater than our own.

That is a place where we will go to war every day if we allow it. It comes down to Who defines us and what defines us. I want to live a life worthy of the calling I have received--not the person next to me. God is the Great I AM, and I would like to become great in His eyes, not the world's.

Greatness to me is having the ability to let love in your life and give it back. It is living wholly and authentically, it is letting the relationships you have with people reach a place of depth. It is believing in, trusting with, and pushing forth the ones we care about; pushing them towards a greatness that far exceeds the world's standard. It is a taking the time to have a conversation, and it is absolutely taking the time to listen. It is believing that every moment, and every encounter, holds significance, and thus taking advantage of that.

Be great. But be great in the ways that greatness isn't usually defined.

Monday, December 26, 2011

I have concluded that I'm an idea person. But not the good kind, where ideas lead to plans and plans lead to action. No-- I get an idea in my head, idealize it to death, and then rid myself of it. It is a terrible habit, and it gets in the way of so many opportunities that are just begging me to grab hold of them.

It's like I'm a dreamer caged by reality. I will allow myself to consider something incredibly plausible until it either becomes too real, or until one shadow of a doubt creeps in--and then it's over. My ideas become plagued by what-if's and no-way's and never's, which creates a constant itch for change but no actual remedy to stop it.

The dreams aren't necessarily big ones, either. I start thinking about food journalism and the idea of a food blog, I make it perfect in my head, but then I never follow through. I considered transferring schools so that I could be pushed in journalism seriously, but the second it became real I stopped the pursuit. I've always wanted to study abroad, but never thought it was possible without the option of a music program--and then I found a perfect one in Australia. Once disbelief and excuses claimed that idea, though, all that was left was an unfinished application and the realization that I am not taking charge of...well, of anything.

I thirst for adventure, but I always opt out of the risk involved. I only venture to a certain degree, and always maintain a specific amount of caution. I cannot think of one thing that I have thought of doing, and could have done, but didn't bail out before the cost became too high.

Not anymore, though. Ideas do have the potential to become fantasized dreams with no ounce of reality, and I am the first to admit I am guilty of that. But, ideas also have the extreme possibility to open up those doors that would have otherwise remained cracked if the risk hadn't been taken to see what was behind it. Maybe I explore a few doors and there is a cement wall immediately following it. Maybe a few others have a path that starts out promising, but ends up leading nowhere. But maybe, just maybe, there are a few doors that make the way towards the very real, tangible idea that had only been but a thought in my head beforehand. Either way though, experience is gained and lessons are learned.

Starting small, with just enough challenge, just enough risk, will probably be my first door. That might mean being vegan starting on the January 1st. Why? Because it's an idea for something different, for something that is hard enough that I have to be intentional about it, but simple enough that it is accomplishable. I would like to finish my Australia application, too. An application is just an application, and there is no reason to not tackle that first step. I'd also love to access creativity more. That means writing more, whether it's for me or for a blog. That means making a meal. It means arranging fresh flowers in a vase or making a handmade birthday card. It means loving every minute of the little things; the moments in creation that are often taken for granted.

It means having an idea, running with it, believing in it, and pursuing truth throughout the chase.
I think I will consider this a New Year's Resolution...or two or three. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

one day soon, these fears will be put to rest
extinguished like a fire
put out like time-out
killed like a pesky fly.
I only pray it happens before he comes--
before I know he is coming
so that in You this heart may be blessed.

the mind knows it is irrational to question
stupid to doubt
not of You to buy the lie,
because Your love is always enough
always abounding
always true
no exceptions.

it is a process, though
and for that there is grace
but let the process be progressive rather than
clearing rather than
and securing rather than

A heart is fragile and unable to be controlled
but You are greater
than our hearts
more powerful
than emotions
bigger than
past bruises and scrapes.

In You alone, I find rest
In You alone there is peace
"When the battle rages
for all that I am
You hold my future
in the palm of Your hand."

I am choosing to surrender that which gives me life,
for it is only given when it is lost
and since You have already paid the cost
I am trusting your plan over

"Send me your light and your faithful care,
   let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain,
   to the place where you dwell.
4 Then I will go to the altar of God,
   to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the lyre,
   O God, my God.
 5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
   Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
   for I will yet praise him,
   my Savior and my God" --Psalm 43:3-5

Sunday, September 18, 2011

 In wandering, there is blessing.

We all go through periods of wandering, and in regards to faith, it might be something we feel as though we know a little too well. It comes at different times, and we usually try to avoid it like the plague, but inevitably, wandering happens because life happens.

Life happened for me in these last six months. I had been seeking the Lord with all that I was for quite awhile, but when my plans still weren't panning out, when my circumstances still seemed like one question mark after the other, I became directionless and quite frankly, exhausted.

So often, my relationship with the Lord is based off feelings. It is one of the trickiest traps we can fall into. But I fell and I fell hard, and even though I was trying to seek Him throughout those dry months of summer, I wasn't feeling Him so I continued to wrestle with Him.

Two weeks ago, though, Jesus performed the most tangible act of grace that my young faith has yet to experience. It not only flipped the flickering switch of my heart back on, but also reminded me of how phenomenal and real our God is.

I prayed that Saturday morning after I found out I didn't have to work, telling Jesus that I didn't know where we were currently at. I told Him I needed to be refreshed in a new way, in a way that would wake me up and remind me of His goodness and His realness. He takes me on this hike that tons of Jessup students went on, and brings me head on into a situation where nothing but His power, His knowledge, and His peace could have brought me through.

My lifeguard training was suddenly being put to use, to care for a stranger that had gone down a steep waterfall, completely slicing both his forehead open as well as the right side of his stomach. He was in pain, he was bleeding profusely, and for two hours I was the primary responder that had to anticipate what was going to happen next. I was going for a day of sunshine and friends, but instead I was at the bottom of a canyon, potentially holding a man's life in my own two hands.

You're told in training that adrenaline kicks in; you might get really shaky, you might panic, you might have an emotional breakdown during and after. These things never came into full fruition for me though. Jesus kept me calm throughout all of it; weirdly calm. I have never been in an emergency situation period, much less been the person controlling one. Yet I knew exactly what I needed to do, even though I had only been trained months earlier. I had the confidence to stick with my gut when others tried to call the shots, I had the empathy to be with that man with my words, keeping him stable, talking with him to distract him from the pain. I had all of those things though, because of the Holy Spirit's divine power in me. It is the craziest thing that has ever happened in my life, and I can't stress enough the timing of it in relation to my walk with the Lord and the way He used that day to glorify Him.

He showed me His realness that day. He proved to me, even though He doesn't have to and shouldn't need to, that He is here and He is living and He is intricately involved in my life. In all of our lives.

That's grace, you guys. That is phenomenal, divine grace. Jesus put me in a situation that He had been preparing me for since I got that job, knowing I'd be there that day, knowing I'd be in a time of wandering with Him, knowing that it would wake me back up and ultimately bring Him every ounce of the glory.

It blows my mind all over again to write it out, even though I have processed that day out loud already so many times.

I know this is a novel, but I encourage you; let wandering bring you to the feet of the living Jesus, and be ready for that moment in which He reveals the work He has been doing in midst of our humanness and unawareness.

PS, look at the poem I wrote on the entry for Sept. 3. This all happened the next day. Jesus is so real.

Friday, September 16, 2011

There is nothing like a beautiful, Friday afternoon to yourself. I came back today to an empty apartment, which normally I wouldn't like, but for a few hours tonight, it was so perfect, and so needed. I put on my sweats, whipped out ingredients for this delicious toasted barley salad with caramelized corn, zucchini, and tomato, and listened to the lovely music of Bon Iver. The window was cracked in the kitchen, sun pouring in, and the slight breeze was enough to make my soul overflow from happiness.

The salad was even more flavorful than I could have imagined. All the produce was seasonal, fresh, and organic, thanks to the amazing Living Social deal I scored. (I got $20 worth of Whole Foods groceries for only $10! Did anyone else get it? It was practically a steal.)

I used red corn and yellow corn, and summer squash along with the zucchini. The dressing makes the salad-- lemon juice emulsified by olive oil, with pepper, fresh basil, and garlic. Honestly to die for. I paired the salad with organic chicken breasts seasoned with lemon pepper, black pepper, lemon juice, and some dry basil. It was the perfect combination and made for a very fulfilling, satisfying meal.

In a perfect world, I would have an actual camera to take an actual picture that could actually display the detail and colors of the meal, but until money grows on trees, I will continue to use my phone. (Which kills me by the way, really kills me).

I'll be heading home after work tomorrow to get in some productivity alongside some relaxation, so rest-assured, I will be posting again very soon!

Happy weekend!