watching the stars align…

these past few days have been really interesting as far as timing, opportunities and my future goes.

i just learned yesterday that the job i’ve been expecting to have this school year has been offered to someone else. this has been under the pretense of training someone else in, but honestly, i don’t really believe that. that just doesn’t seem to be the way this particular organization works. if i had to GUESS, i would say that it has more to do with me being assertive, and perhaps sometimes overstepping my boundaries, to get things done that need to get done. perhaps it had something to do with my other coworker having issues working with/alongside me. honestly, i can’t really say. i thought we enjoyed working together and had a good relationship. obviously we weren’t besties, but i thought it was a decent working relationship. training someone else in is a legitimate reason. except that this job barely needs that. it’s pretty simple, straight forward, no real tricks. lately, though, i’ve been seeing a lot of the politics that go behind the scenes and THAT is a very UNattractive part of this job, this organization. i realize that this is probably part of EVERY organization, but really… i don’t think that it needs to be like that. i don’t do well in situations where part of my job is to stroke the egos of others around me. i simply don’t do that well. i don’t expect others to do that to me, in fact, i don’t WANT others to do that. it’s all dishonesty. i’d rather someone let me know that they don’t like me, don’t like working with me, don’t like whatever than to pretend that everything is fine, waiting for the perfect moment to get rid of me. that isn’t a decent thing to do to someone.

anyway.

i’m not saying that me not having this position is the end of the world, though. in fact, i think it could be one of the best things that have happened to me in a LONG time. because i don’t have this job, i don’t have to deal with all the aspects i can’t stand about it. i don’t have to have responsibility. i don’t have to try to make people listen to me. i don’t have to do a lot of things. and, honestly, it’s kinda nice.

however, i think that there is something MUCH larger behind all of this. something more than lack of responsibility, something more than more free time. i think that God has been working out for some time that i get involved SOMEWHERE in my field to boost the grad school resume. this semester, i am writing a literature review for the psych experiment i’ll be conducting next semester. i was kinda stuck on trying to find an idea when the concept of forgiveness started popping EVERYWHERE. it was the surprise topic i found in my searching. it was the topic in my life group on thursday. it was the topic at church on sunday. i had a friend bring it up in a daily thankfulness email we share. i think there were one or two more places that it came up. THIS IS IN THE PAST 5 DAYS!! so…. i took the hint. i’m now going to be conducting a correlational study on relationship satisfaction, self-esteem and forgiveness. i can’t say anything more than that. i just need to remember that in real life too, haha.

i talked to my experimental professor about this idea and we bounced ideas around on friday and settled on something that should be really good. we then talked about seminary and she said that i should really try to find a place to volunteer this year to boost that grad school resume. i wasn’t sure that i’d have time with this job i was supposed to get… and then… no job. hmm. time issue resolved. then, i was thinking that i would have to start selling my plasma again to help with the budget and home finances. well… a possible promotion will take care of ALL of those issues. hmmm. money issue resolved. well THEN i was thinking, i don’t know if i’m going to have time during the day to do this with school and not having a car and everything. well, as long as i’m done by 5, i can have the car. transportation issue solved.

i’m thinking that i really just need to bite the bullet, start looking around and seeing what i can do for a year. even volunteering! just a few days a week!! i can DO that!!

oh yeah, and we talked to a pastor about leading a life group and it seems promising. we’re going to be previewing the material with some friends so that we can do a practice run before the first couple sessions and it’s going to be great! heck, i think there are only 6 sessions, so we may end up just doing all of them with these friends. THAT would be even BETTER!! and if we don’t do a new believers one, we may end up hosting another round of ‘life’s healing choices’, the life group i’m in right now. i just think that there are SO many possibilities to get involved at church and to really serve God and to pour my heart into Him. it’s so exciting!

i think that it’s honestly been the fact that james and i have been trusting God so much to make ends meet, to provide what we need, to show us where to go and it’s REALLY, VISIBLY paying off. i can SEE where things might go in the very near future. i just LOVE knowing and seeing what the future holds that all i have to do is follow through. i don’t have to come up with the ideas, i don’t have to plan step by step, i just have to see the step and TAKE IT. i cannot imagine how stressful my life would be if i had to plan out my life. i know some people are stressed when they can’t do that, but for me, this is SO freeing.

as i read along in other blogs, i’m so inspired and rooting for all the people who are stepping out to make a change for the better in their lives. most of the time, it’s a weight loss plan, sometimes it’s something else – a new way to stay connected, an ‘aha!!’ moment, a ‘just breathe’ moment, whatever. i think that in light of all these changes and opportunities, it’s my turn to jump. it’s my turn to put myself out there and see what happens. it’s my turn to change my life for the better, to invest in my future more than just grades and a transcript. to invest more than a couple church groups. to invest more. i certainly don’t want to overwhelm myself, but i sincerely believe that i can do this. i can take the step, make the change, reap the reward. i want to. it just takes that one little step of faith, saying ‘here goes everything familiar’ to try something completely new. for all i know, it’s what God had in mind all along.

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strange emotions…

i’m sitting at my kitchen table over a bowl of stuffing at 9 pm swimming in a sea of undefinable emotion. this feeling or these feelings that have no name, that have no real way of being expressed.

maybe i’ve simply just had a long day. i’ve been up since 6:15. we met with a financial planner this morning. i practiced for my chair audition at 11. i went to class an hour early accidentally and spent an hour perusing the internets before class. i had my first day of real class for the semester, notes and everything. i did my audition, met some of my new fluties, chatted with them about this and that. then i had my audition and chatted with her for a while about how my life is going and how it’s different and wonderful and all of that stuff. i had time to eat lunch so i walked over to where james works and had lunch with him. i walked back to campus for my final class of the day. then i had three and half hours to do… nothing. i sold all my books back because i got them online for way cheaper. i didn’t have anything to read, i had no research for my proposals to read. i spend three hours on facebook, lolcats, loldogs, failblog, in reader and my email. i chatted with a professor who i really respect and enjoy. i chatted with little brother for quite a while too when he happened to find me. i walked back over to james’ work so we could go home. we made some supper and i hit the books immediately after supper. i’m tired. it’s been a long day.

maybe it’s the fact that i’ve been suddenly trying to learn portion control. i’m eating less throughout the day, taking smaller portions, not going back for seconds. i wonder if the sudden drop is making me more tired, more irritable, more prone to this kind of weird mood. we’re not eating anything different, i’m just eating less of it. james was trying to get to the bottom of how i feel, asking if i wanted to do this or that and the ONLY thing i could think of was ‘i want to eat stuffing’. i’m craving it, i want it, i want to eat and i want to eat now. the stuffing is really good, i’m really enjoying it though it’s doing nothing to alleviate my mood.

maybe it’s from the content of one of the textbooks i was reading for my physiological psych class. the author is not coming off as very objective or even all that scientific to me, though this is only the first chapter. he presents evolution as fact and as i’m reading it, it just sounds ridiculous to me. i can’t fathom for the life of me how people can buy into people evolving from bacteria in the mud. i realize that my beliefs could come off as equally ridiculous saying that an Intelligent Creator designed the entire universe, spoke planets, animals, light, water, and plants into existence. this Creator also molded humankind out of mud and breathed life into humans creating their spirits and their soul. yes, it sounds pretty ridiculous scientifically too, i know. but at least it ACCOUNTS for how LIFE began. i cannot buy the fact that one day life didn’t exist and the next day it did. that one day the earth was full of mud and weird stuff and suddenly bacteria or whatever formed. life from no life. it CAN’T happen. maybe the thing that REALLY bothers me is that evolution is presented as fact and not a theory. it’s the theory of evolution. why can’t there also be a theory of intelligent design? i think that individual species evolve over time but i don’t believe that one turns into another. not buying that.

maybe it’s the fact that this author wasted two pages trying to convince people that animal testing is necessary. i agree with him, but he ranted for TWO PAGES about. the section was titled ‘ethics and animal testing’ or something of that nature and he barely touched on ethics. he said that animals need to be treated and tested humanely. duh. and then went on to rant about how pet owners are responsible for more death than scientific research, ranted about animal right’s books and the number of pages devoted to certain subjects within animal rights and how they blow out of proportion animal testing and all that. now, i don’t mind that he presented the information, it’s good information, but it was in the form of a rant. not objective, information presentation.

maybe it’s the fact that i just started a new no baby pill and it’s messing with my hormones or something causing weird effects on my moods and emotions.

maybe it’s the fact that as much as i say this blog is for me and my mental health (and it really is), i still get those pangs of jealousy when i visit other blogs who have tons of readers and commenters. i know i have a fair amount of readers, i can see it every time i post and my hit counter jumps and my little wordpress graph spikes. i even had two facebook (and irl friends) tell me in the past couple days that they read my blog and they like what i write (shout out to you two, you know who you are). at the same time, it begs the question why not say something then? why not share if i’ve touched something in your mind or your heart? why not disagree if you think i’m a raving idiot? i’m sure that it’s simply the fact that they’re shy, they don’t want to say anything or aren’t very articulate in the written word (which quite honestly is very foreign to me). i see other high commenting numbers and i covet them. i do realize that in order to get those numbers, i have to get out there. i have to find other blogs to read. i have to comment on them. i know all of this and i know that with school starting, i simply won’t have all the time in the world to keep up with more than the 11 or 12 that i have right now. i went in search of some good blogs, heck, i went looking for specifically christian blogs and was disappointed with what i found.

maybe it’s the fact that i’m disappointed with the results of my last blog circle expanding venture. i found christian blogs but they were so poorly written that i couldn’t get through them. grammar was horrendous. train of thought was more like a train wreck. the content was actually good, but the presentation wasn’t. it wasn’t what i was looking for and so of the four that i found and followed, i think i’m still following one. they don’t post that often so it’s taking longer to decide if i want to continue following.

maybe it’s the fact that i sit in school all day and do work, and then after class do homework, and then get home and have to read while my husband is able to play computer games after work. he’s able to relax while i need to continue working. there might be a bit of jealousy there. perhaps i’m feeling lonely being stuck reading all by myself. it’s possible that i wish he would sit by me while i have to read (sometimes ridiculous) textbooks and that i could share with him what i’m reading or just simply not have to know that he’s playing while i’m working. i think part of me would be satisfied chaining him to the couch as long as i have to do homework. of course, he works all day and when i’m surfing the net after class, he’s working hard. and he works hard all year long. still… there’s a tiny sense of injustice in the irrational part of my being.

maybe it’s simply the fact that i’m human, life is changing, and it’s causing an unusual amount of stress on me and my body which is manifesting itself in different ways. life is suddenly busier with more things to do, more places to go, more books to read, more words to highlight, more papers to write, more lectures to listen to, more people in classes to meet, more hoops to jump through, more hours awake and away from home, more libidos that cut into sleep time, more dishes on the counter and clothes on the floor. simply more things to do and less time in which to do them.

i suppose there are a lot of reasons that i could be feeling the way i’m feeling and maybe it’s not necessarily bad. maybe it’s my body’s way of forcing me to take a break, my body’s way of shutting down so that i can recharge.

classes…

the first day of class is usually the most nerve-wracking day of the ENTIRE semester for me. it’s the day that all the professors give out their syllabi and i am looking at the whole semester compacted into a few sheets of paper. all the chapters, the assignments, the tests, the projects, the papers, the extra credit. ALL of it just laid out for me to see.

this semester, i can already tell that things are different. i’ve only had one class, but i’m not worried about it. it looks like quite a bit of work, too. 25 chapters, weekly assignments, almost daily in class assignments, a project. somehow, starting this semester, i’m able to look at the syllabus and realize that it’s not going to be that difficult. yeah, it’s a lot of work, but it’s going to be spread over 16 weeks.

i think i’ve finally figured out that just because it’s a 25 chapter textbook doesn’t mean that i have to read it all in one day. heck, even in one week. i’ve always gotten so overwhelmed looking at the things that i have to know and all the textbooks i have to read. over the last year, and definitely over the summer, it’s finally sunk in that things aren’t as much work and aren’t as overwhelming as they appear on paper. as long as i stay caught up, on top of school and reading and assignments (and get my books sooner rather than later), i should be JUST. FINE.

i’m looking forward to this semester. i’m looking forward to the classes, looking forward to familiar professors, looking forward to being one of the top students in class. probably not THE top student, but in the top 5 or 7 for sure. i want to be the student that the professors come to expect great things from, the student whose name professors get to know, the student that i always wanted to be but never found what i was passionate about enough to justify the work that being at the top takes.

fortunately, i’ve done it now. and my GPA is AWESOME so far. i know that i won’t graduate with a 4.0. simply not enough time to do that, but i think there’s plenty of time to raise it even more. i want to have good grades, i want to have my two seminaries take me seriously as a student. i want them to look at my stuff and think ‘we want her’. i’m mature enough to realize that being serious now makes a huge impact on that future. sacrificing now will pay off.

i think that having stability helps a lot too. i’m financially stable, emotionally stable, relationally stable. all of that. i have no worries. i know that i will have money to eat, i know that my husband will be there at the end of the day to cheer me on when things are good and encourage me when things are tough. i don’t have an unreasonable boss to deal with. this summer, a professor told me over and over that she really enjoyed reading my assignments, that she always expected great things from me. she knew that i would step up and take responsibility in class when she needed someone to do that. it was AWESOME to hear. it makes me want to continue to do that. to continue to be the student that professors know will get stuff done.

this should be a really good semester. i’m so looking forward to it.

aware of the stink…

i went for another run this morning and as i sat here checking the distance of my run and entering data into my running log, i became aware of an odor. so i started looking around me to see what could be smelling bad. is it the bread that james and are planning to feed to the ducks on of these days (yeah, are we so 80 or what!)? is the garbage? what the heck?

i finally realized it was me. this is MY stink. runny, sweaty, smelly, haven’t-showered-since-who-the-heck-knows-when stink (fyi, i showered after my last run, this was a mild exaggeration).

isn’t that so true with our lives, though? we all really want to believe that we have sweet smelling lives. lives that shower every day. lives that are a pleasant aroma to those around us. however, sometimes, i smell something that stinks and i begin looking everywhere to discover it. everywhere except at myself. it’s only once i’ve exhausted all other places that my life could stink that i finally look at myself. sometimes it doesn’t even take that long. once the realization hits that i only smell it when i move… i figure it out.

i’m part of a bible study right now through my church and the task, assignment, whatever you want to call it for this week is to sit down and write out all the things about yourself that are hurtful to you, hurtful to others, and hurtful to God. basically, it’s to write down everything that’s wrong with you of which you are aware and then to ask God to reveal even more. it’s difficult, to say the least. it’s unpleasant. however, as i’ve done this before, it’s EXTREMELY rewarding once it’s all over because i start to see those unpleasant things in my life. i start to see the things that stink, the things that perhaps other people dislike, the things that continue to hurt me in my own life.

i’m the leader for this week, which means it’s my job to look things over, preview the dvd, know the material, usher it in, all that stuff. and as the really great leader i am, i have to admit, i haven’t started my list yet. mostly because i forgot about it. i let it slip from my mind. i thought today was going to be a relaxing day full of whatever cari wants to do, but the reality is, i have a LOT to do today. OUTSIDE of this study as well. things that i’ve been procrastinating, things that really, honestly, need to get done (showering being on TOP of that list). of course, i’d much rather sit around, play some video games, watch a movie, do nothing. however, i feel that would only contribute to that life stink. this list, this assignment, this task, is one way that i can begin to remove those kinds of stinks and smells from my life. getting things done around the apartment, getting ready for school, heck, even cleaning up a little – these are all ways that i can contribute to being a pleasant aroma to my husband (and help the apartment have a pleasant aroma too).

during most of my schooling years, i didn’t have this kind of awareness, this desire to improve myself. i’m realizing that i was living out maslow’s hierarchy of needs. i was poor, was never really positive that i’d have enough money to pay all my bills, wasn’t eating well, all of those things. my lower, basic needs weren’t really being met, at least not in my mind at the time. looking back, i see how God had His hand there all the time, making sure that i had what i needed. i didn’t feel secure. now, i know that all my basic needs are being met. we always have food in the apartment, always have money for food, for bills, for everything we need. it’s as though my mind is free now to work on the higher aspects of life. i’m working toward that self-actualization, fulfilling my potential, being all that i can be, pursuing talents and using them, all of these things. i’m finally able to think about making myself a better person. i’m finally able to say no to the things that aren’t the best for me and saying yes to things that are. i’m able to say ‘i don’t want to be in your group’ and i don’t necessarily have to give a reason. the freedom of being able to make those kinds of decisions and not AGONIZE over them is amazing. the freedom to be everything that God made me to be.

with that freedom, of course, comes responsibility. responsible for doing what i need to do to achieve the goals set before. the responsibility of doing something about the stink. the responsibility of being human, a woman, a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a fellow Christ-follower. all of these things. i embrace the responsibility (most of the time) and honestly, i can’t wait to see what ends up on this list and what comes of it. i really believe that God has something really great in store for me today.

the freedom of running…

i went for a run for the first time in almost a month this morning. part of the break was due to me biking 12 miles a day and part of it was simply me being lazy. it has been HOT outside and i didn’t want to be getting up at 630 to go for a run. however, as i ran my one mile today, i simply let everything slip away. my worries, my anxieties, my thoughts about the future, even the story line of the series i’m reading right now (less than a book left!).

i find that my running is one of the most healing things i do. i absolutely love to run but i hate when pressure is put on me to perform beyond what i feel like performing. i am planning on signing up for a 5k. in fact, i’m going to research it as soon as i’m done here. the fact is, i need a goal to work toward. at first, my goal was simply to get in shape. and that worked for a couple months. then the motivation fell away. probably because i was about to get married, school was picking up, things were simply getting crazy. of course, the logical thing to have done at that point would be to hold on fiercely to my running time, my escape time, my time to relax and let my mind wander to wherever it wants to go. to focus on the burning of my out of shape lungs, to focus on the sound of my shoes hitting the pavement, the sound of my breathing. to really listen and hear the world go on around me. to watch other people do the things they do with their own time.

running is my sweet escape from life. i have no one yelling at me to go faster, longer, harder, more. i go when i want, i stop when i want and i arrive back home feeling completely refreshed. at least mentally. physically, my lungs may be burning, my legs tight and weak, my shoulders sore, and a sideache. i may feel that it’s the worst run i’ve ever done and i may think of all the things i didn’t do before my run that i should have, like eat and drink. in spite of all of that, though, my mind is refreshed. my mind is proud of my accomplishment to go out there and do it. my mind pushes me to run to my limits and then even a little farther, but as soon as i’m home, my mind is the first to congratulate me, tell me a did a good job, be proud that i got out there and did something.

i keep time just so i can know where i am as compared to where i want to be. i watch my times fluctuate from really great to pretty ok and the great thing about keeping that time is that i am seeing the numbers slowly go down overall. the slow times are still faster than the previous slow times. the fast times are still faster than the previous fast times. i don’t want to analyze anything at this point. honestly, i don’t know that i ever will want to, but i know this for sure: i love having this record. even when it shows i haven’t run for a month. even when it shows i’m slow. even when, even when, even when… i still love it. i love to see my dedication to the commitment i made four months ago to start running.

i’ve already done a 5k this summer that i didn’t ever plan on doing. maybe for this 5k i’m going to research, i’ll see if i want to push to do a 10k. i don’t know if i’m really ready for that yet. i know i can run a 5k no matter how out of shape i am. i can finish one. maybe i’ll stick with small and continue to enjoy my running, continue to enjoy my time in the fresh air, out on the road, out by myself, doing my thing. i know that one day, the burning in the lungs will once again disappear as they get into shape. i know that my energy level will go up, my mind will be sharper, i will be healthier and better. i will have that something that allows me to refocus, rejuvenate, recenter. i will be able to clear my mind to focus on the tasks at hand and encourage me to continue along this path – to do well in school, to do well in leading a life group, to do well in my friendships and marriage, to do well in life.

i’ve never understood how this works. i don’t necessarily understand how pushing one’s body like this is such a great way to unwind and relax. something tells me that it should be the opposite – exercise puts a lot of stress and strain on the body. i know that it also allows the body to be stronger, it releases endorphins, helps clear out toxins and regulate bodily systems. perhaps that is the secret. perhaps exercise is somehow the body’s reset button too. once it’s been pushed, it’s able to reset and refocus as well with proper rest and cooling down. perhaps it’s all just a trick of the mind too, but somehow i doubt that. all i know, is that i love this sport and i’m so glad that i’m able to engage in it with relatively little difficulty and that the love is still there. the desire to run is still in my heart and as long as that’s there, you’ll be able to find me out on the road, listening to my breathing and the pounding of my shoes feeling the stress of this life sweat out my pores. you’ll still find my mind to be my greatest encouragement and my greatest motivator. you’ll still see a hint of a smile at the end of a run. i’ll be there.

picking and choosing…

one of our big projects this summer was to get wedding and engagement pictures printed, framed and hung on our (up until today) blank picture wall. as the picture above evidences, i finally got that done today. our picture wall isn’t done because there’s obviously room for more pictures, but it’s at least presentable and could stay like that and be complete.

of course, framing and hanging were the easy parts. it was PICKING the pictures that was the most time consuming thing. we have on file 86 engagement pictures and 628 wedding pictures. there are 12 pictures hanging on that wall. that makes for a LOT of pictures that were left out. i remember sorting through, first taking the ones that really grabbed my eye, and then having to narrow and narrow, looking more and more closely at each picture to decide if it was one that i could live with not having on a wall. so we finally narrowed our pictures down to, currently, 14 hanging in the apartment.

isn’t that same thing so true with life? as i go along living my life, i encounter things that catch my eye but there’s simply so much and so many that i have to narrow them down. i have to scrutinize everything that comes across my path so that life can stay, if nothing else, manageable. there are so many things i like, so many things i’d want to display but that’s simply unrealistic. even if i had the time and space and money, if i displayed everything (like all 714 photos), it would be so cluttered and overwhelming that the good things (or pictures) would simply be lost in a mess of stuff (or pictures).

the same thing is true of the with whom i choose to surround myself. i have to pick and choose those who allow and bring out the absolute best in myself. i scrutinize their lives, their attitudes, their priorities, and even their language to determine if i want them hanging on my wall. i’m slowly learning the importance of discerning who i choose to give my time, money or talents to. there are so many people who want one (or more) of those three from everyone. there are so many who want people to join their team, sell their stuff, buy their stuff, donate to their cause, support their people and more that it’s impossible to do it all. and these are just the LEGIT people. then you have the people who use an organization or a name to further their own selfish purposes. it’s incredibly hard to tell the difference sometimes.

i’m generally a very trusting person, i want to believe the best about everyone and that people do, in fact, mean what they say. i’m slowly learning that this is not the case. i’m learning that people lie through their teeth to say what people want to hear to get people to do what they want to do. and it’s not even for money. sometimes it’s manipulating friends and family. sometimes it’s as simple as absolute self-absorption, to the point where they barely even notice what they’re doing and only realize it when they’ve pushed everyone away.

it’s hard for me to accept the people are, at the very core of their being, selfish and looking out for only themselves. i do it. my husband does it. my parents do it. my friends do it. i understand the difficulty of trying to push aside self to focus on others (to a healthy degree, of course). i understand how difficult life is, and so therefore, i absolutely see and embrace the need to watch with whom i associate myself. i want people to know, beyond a shadow of doubt, who i am and where i stand and what i believe in. i don’t want people to assume they know, i want them to REALLY know. of course, the simplest way to do that is to tell people to their faces. however, i know that people don’t want that. if they want to know about me, i want to be able to give them plenty of nonverbal evidence (and i’m not talking slogan t-shirts). i want to be the kind of person that people WANT to associate with. i’m a very social person and so it is almost devastating to me when i have finally come to the conclusion that a friendship must be severed. i’m fairly awkward in acquaintance relationships (ok, pretty darn awkward) and situations and so i try to move as quickly as possible into the friend realm. i want to get that familiarity. unfortunately, that sometimes means that i overlook blatantly obvious signs about a person and blaze ahead into the friendship anyway. sometimes i overlook red flags in organizations that want me, my help, my time, my money so that i can make connections.

i’ve been humbled lately to really see on whose picture walls i live and to see from whose picture walls i’ve been taken down. i just hope that in the future, i will remember that just because there is room, that doesn’t mean that it is good, appropriate, or helpful to display or help out. i need to remember that discernment is the most effective way to keep life manageable and to keep some from taking advantage of me. pictures are wonderful things to have on the wall. they tell the story of who i am. the question is, what kind of a story are they telling?