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Monthly Archives: January 2012

“Several times during the day… ask yourself for a moment if you have your soul in your hands or if some passion or fit of anxiety has robbed you of it… Quietly bring your soul back to the presence of God, subjecting all your affections and desires to the obedience and direction of his divine will.”  -St. Francis de Sales

 

*Thank God I’m not the only one.

Post-Grad

Look! Babies!

It’s odd to title this “Post-Grad,” considering I’m still a student, but I can, with confidence, say that I am no longer in college.  Recently I’ve been comparing my graduate experience to my undergraduate, which probably isn’t fair, because the two are about as similar as oak trees and color crayons.  I complain about my college days a lot.  Despite the overall disservice I have done myself through this complaining, I’ve gleaned some good things, I think.  Aside from the academic stuff, I learned so much in college, mostly basic things about life.  I’ll leave a lot of lessons for you to learn on your own, but if you’re preparing to embark on this journey, here are some things I wish I would’ve known first:

1.  Friendships:  Something magical happens at college, and I like to call it the “connection of the firsts.”  You have them a lot with people, the ones you share those initial, stunningly-fabulous experiences with.  You vow to be BFFs after your first session of dorm ridiculousness, and you might very well be BFFs, but don’t discount the others you don’t notice until two, three months, maybe even years, in.  At every turn you, will have the opportunity to meet someone new.  Go with your gut; talk to that person who interests you, even if he or she is outside of your group of magical firsts, really “different” from you from faraway glance, or intimidates you a bit.  By the end of our four years together the midnight slurpee run that seemed magical at the time wasn’t enough to keep us friends, and the ones sitting next to me through the real, gritty moments were the ones I never shared a magical first connection with but an authentic one.

2.  Homework and Class:  Do it; it matters.  When you think it doesn’t, it does.  And when you think the professor doesn’t notice, he or she does.  Okay, you definitely don’t have to do it perfectly every time, and I’m not saying to get a 4.0, but make learning a priority.  Inevitably you’ll ditch class a few times, but try to go and take it seriously.  It’s a respect thing, and it will make more sense later, even if you have to doodle your way through that boring lecture now.  College might feel like an obligation or an expectation of your parents, etc., but don’t forget that it’s a privilege many people in the U.S. and other places would give everything to have.  Once you have your degree, even if it’s in some obscure discipline you won’t touch again, it can’t be taken from you, and few things in life are like that anymore.

3.  Money:  If you don’t know what to do with or how to use it well, learn.  This is your time to mess up and figure out how to make it work.  Don’t get a million (heck, don’t even get one!) credit cards that you use for midnight pizza delivery and impulsive shopping trips for things you don’t need or want.  Get a job, even if it’s only 10 to 15 hours per week, and learn how to use that money well.  Don’t take out student loans to live off of if you can help it. Take money seriously, and if you don’t know how to do that, seek out the help of someone older who does.  Set yourself up for financial freedom in your post-college days, when life will only get more expensive…

4.  Exploration:  Use your time at college to do new things.  You want to study abroad?  Do it.  You want to try out that activity or get involved with that organization?  Do it.  You think it looks fun to make lattes?  Become a barista.  You see something that needs to be done or find something you really care about?  Use your spare hours to volunteer.  Now is your time to begin the never-ending process of finding yourself, so take advantage of the time and opportunity to do it.  Yes, college life is about sitting around in sweats and watching an entire season of Lost in one weekend, but don’t let it be just that.

5.  Be Uncomfortable:  It’s all too easy to get comfortable in your college rut; you live in a bubble after all.  Every once in awhile do something new, or, even better, do something by yourself, for the experience of it.  You’ll learn better and more.  Read the news or listen to NPR.  If your campus is in the ‘burbs, go to the city, and vice versa.  Explore the area where you are, even if you’ve “lived there your whole life.”  There is inevitably something you haven’t seen or done.

6.  Communicate:  It’s amazing how awful I was at communicating before college.  I’m not necessarily better now, but I know my pattern.  Learn how to talk about things in person like that growing annoyance you have with your roommate over the sink of dirty dishes or how mad you are at your significant other.  Don’t do it over chat, Facebook message, or text.  Do it in person.  Sit through that awkward confrontation.  Unplug for awhile.  Relationships will be a part of your life for the rest of it, whether they are healthy or hurtful, and knowing how to communicate is essential to keeping them strong.

7.  Parents:  Call them weekly.  Tell them what you’re up to.  Ask them about what they’re up to.  Prioritize this relationship, even if feels like you’re ready to ditch ’em, you’re so over them, or you somehow know more than them after one semester at college.  Your relationship will go through many phases, and you’re beginning possibly one of the hardest but best ones.  Cut them some slack; they’re learning how to let you go.  Cut yourself some slack; you’re learning how to need them in an entirely different way.

8.  Love & Relationships:  Balance is the key word here.  Go on dates, have fun, and decide to be “official” or whatever it’s being called these days.  You can do all that or none of that, but you should be the one to choose.  When everyone around you is in a relationship, I assure you, they are not.  Don’t let dating get in the way of friendships or new experiences, and don’t let the fear of missing out on experiences keep you from investing in a relationship with someone who is truly awesome.  And don’t be that person who has to bring your significant other out for friend time.  You might meet Mr./Mrs./Partner right in college and you might not; either way, it is okay, and you are okay.  You are complete as is, and no one else will change that in college or post graduation.

9.  Investing Yourself:  You’ll have so many opportunities to get involved with things in college, and definitely do something or several things, but don’t do everything.  When part of you is going every direction, you’re really going no direction.  Be intentional with your time, and interact meaningfully with others; you’ll never go wrong.  When you feel overwhelmed, chances are you’re overwhelmed, because you’re trying to have it all.  This isn’t possible; learn this now.  Breathe in.  Breathe out.

10.  Be Your Own Best Friend:  Take care of yourself.  Listen to your body.  Don’t feed it empty calories, junk food, and a dinner of pizza and beer (at or after the age of 21) five out of seven nights of the week.  Exercise.  Journal.  Listen to music.  Figure out your stress triggers and what relaxes, centers you.  SLEEP!  I can’t stress that last one enough; I averaged five hours most nights.  Why and how I ever did that is completely beyond me.  Learn how to take care of yourself now, because it will only get harder as you age.  Seriously, watch your own back.  Do what’s best for you, even if no one else is thinks it’s the “right” or “cool” thing.  Invest in things and relationships that challenge and support you.  Be the person you are, and keep the person you want to be in sight.  Work toward that person, but don’t be distraught when you’re not that person.  Love yourself; if you don’t, others won’t.

🙂  Really, just have fun, and enjoy the ride.  College was awesome, but I look back on it fondly, trusting that my best days wave at me from ahead.  Cheers to THAT!

Look! Less baby-like. Totes babin'.

A Marade

Yesterday I participated in a Marade, a combination of march and a parade, for the first time.  Marching through Denver with thousands of people (literally!) representing multiple races, cultures, and creeds to honor the legacy of one of America’s greatest leaders, Martin Luther King, Jr., was wonderful.  Parents bundled up kids and walked hand-in-hand or pulled the little ones in wagons.  People sang, danced, waved flags, and banged drums.  Others laughed, and some cried.  I held my first protest sign-“Stop racial profiling”-and “yelled” racial justice chants, which went something like, “Hey hey!  Ho ho!  Violent cops have got to go!”  All in all, it was quite the experience.

All too often I notice what is different about the person next to me, but it takes courage, I think, to get past that response and see the humanness of someone, the parts of him or her that are just like me.  Growing up with faith and family, I tricked myself, thinking I was immune to prejudice, ignorance, and bigotry, but, sadly, this just isn’t true.  I’m as messed up as KKK members, and I perpetuate systems of oppression and privilege without even thinking about it sometimes.

But days like Martin Luther King, Jr. Day remind me to hope, to dream, and to stand up against things I don’t believe in to build up what I do believe.  And, most of all, days like these remind me that, despite our imperfections (yeah yeah yeah, all that stuff about MLKJ cheating on his wife and the futility of social movements like Occupy, etc. — my articulate response:  haters gonna hate) we can move forward.  I am in recovering, seizing each day as a chance to not do the messed up thing.

No, it won’t be perfect, and someday, if I have kids, I am certain I will cry over the injustice, pain, and inhumane shit that goes on in this world.  But I’ll teach them, show them that forgiveness, grace, truth, and love are the most important things.  That differences might weaken us, but they are more capable of strengthening us.  That the most courageous people on this planet are the ones who stand up, speak, and join hands with the forgotten, lonely, and unloveable people of the world, when the rest turn away, ridicule, reject, or ignore them.  That the brave are the ones who dare to be vulnerable, to listen to stories, to serve others out of the depths of the heart in addition to the volume of the wallet.  I’ll take them to things like marades and soup kitchens, not because it will be the right thing to do, but the necessary thing to do.

All this:  it’s illuminating darkness with brightness.  It’s bringing this world one step closer to the kingdom.

And that, more than anything, is what I want to learn to be better at.

“We have but faith:  we cannot know,

For knowledge is of things we see;

And yet we trust it comes from thee,

A beam in darkness:  let it grow.”

– Alfred Lord Tennyson, In Memoriam

*A Tennyson love-affair rekindled… on one of those nights when I want to write and write and write and read and read and read.  Sometimes I wish I would’ve gone the forsaken writer route… red wine and anthologies will do the fix, though.  Goodnight.  Sleep sweet.

Twenty four.

A friend who moved here about a year ago decided that 2012 was the year to do the all the Colorado things she wishes to do but never does.  Another friend coined his list “12 in 2012.”  But because I have to disrupt the flow a little, and because this is my 24th year of life, I decided to do 24, fun things this year.  Some things are new, and others are repeats.  Here’s the list:

1.  Hike a 14er. – Yes, I say I will do this every year and somehow don’t.  And, yes, this year will be different; it will be the year!

2.  Take a road trip with friends accompanied by a minute-to-the-mile soundtrack, like in the movie Elizabethtown!

3.  Make a [decently drinkable] bottle of wine.

4.  Visit Aspen in the fall. – Because it’s my favorite season, of course!

5.  Read 24 books.

6.  Have a quiet day once a month, preferably in nature, without the iPod, phone, computer, or another person. – Okay, maybe my phone, but for emergency purposes only.

7.  Write two, snail-mail letters to my parents and grandparents every month.

8.  Get inked.

9.  Stay in a mountain cabin with friends for the weekend, laughing, eating good food, and playing outside.

10.  Write down something I am thankful for each day. – so I can look back and remember how awesome 24 was, of course!

11.  Bake a Crème Brûlée.

12.  Teach the twins how to say my name! – Preferably not “Asslee”

13.  Pick summer fruit, and make jam. – Delicious… and I’ve never done it with Colorado fruit!

14.  Swim in an ocean. – Slo?!?

15.  Go to a show at Red Rocks. – fingers crossed for a stellar summer line-up!

16.  Kayak in one of the gorgeous mountain lakes that make me drool.

17.  Distress and redecorate my garage-sale furniture that is two colors.  – I’ve had good intentions to do this for about a-year-and-a-half… it looks like a sad bumble bee.

18.  Write more [quality] poetry. – I miss it, and I’m certain Dr. Woodruff is tisking me from the heavens for not keeping at it… lo siento.

19.  Find my signature cocktail. 

20.  Go camping in the mountains and make hobo dinners! – Because I didn’t go once last summer!  BOO!

21.  Tour wineries in western Colorado.

22.  Run a Half Marathon with the Boo!

23.  Live alone in a fun, old-school apartment sans squirrels and mice. – I’ve never lived by myself, and I always say I want to try it, so I think there’s not a better time than now… or in July, when my current lease is up.

24.  Make sushi!

 

It’s all about the little things, you see!  Yep, 24 will be amazing 🙂  Join me, but only if you promise to have fun, laugh, and put up with my soundtrack-for-every-occasion antics.  Game ON!

 

Be Well.

Excluding New Year’s weekend, I’ve been a hermit since Christmas, hiding in my sanctuary of a bedroom, curled up with hot beverages, books, journals, tunes, sweatpants, wine, and chocolate.  Don’t worry; I ate food, went on a few walks, and worked.

Even though I’m only 23, I’ve discovered what makes me come alive.  My profession isn’t everything, nor do I want it consume me, but I feel lucky that my job speaks to something deep inside.  Even though it’s tiresome, I can’t imagine doing something else.  But before I go all butterflies and teddy bears, I have to say my week of hermitage was necessary.  As much as I enjoy being with people 95% of my week, I’ll let you in on a secret:  I’m only a mild extrovert, which means I have a crap-ton of introvert in me compared to the average social worker.

Ironically, I spend my time doing what I love, but I allow it to suck me up sometimes, too.  I get so passionate about the cause that I forget why I’m doing it.  Or I see only those slipping from the grasp of change, and I lose hope, absorbing myself in inevitable futility.  This process applies to my personal life as well.  I’m sort of like a hamster:  I get on the exercise wheel, thinking about everything and nothing, and run round and round until I’m dizzy and overwhelmed.

At this time last week, I was in hamster mode, and I needed out badly.  Maybe it was a jam-packed quarter or a long trip home, but I was drained and felt as though I’d lost my motivation to do the work, to be well.  An old supervisor once told me that starting right required ending well.  It’s not an exceptionally articulate idea, but it’s life changing.  Taking his words to heart, I decided to end 2011 right, even if it meant being a hermit, pressing into bottled emotions and revisiting moments that brought my the greatest joy through the year.  During my week of solitude, I reflected on where and who I was a year ago.  It’s crazy ridiculous, but my life is awesome regardless of the hamster wheel.

I believe in setting goals, dreaming dreams, and making plans.  Even though I’m not going to share my 2012 anticipations, know I have them, and that, no matter what happens and who I share it with, 2012 will be smokin’.  It’s okay if you’re not a “resolutions” person, but I encourage you to pause and consider things that were and will be.  May you be well in 2012.

Peace be with you.