Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

This is where I'm at right now:

     "I think this is when most people give up on their stories. They come out of college wanting to change the world, wanting to get married, wanting to have kids and change the way people buy office supplies. But they get into the middle and discover it was harder than they thought. They can't see the distant shore anymore, and they wonder if their paddling is moving them forward. None of the trees behind them are getting smaller and none of the trees ahead are getting bigger. They take it out on their spouses, and they go looking for an easier story." 

     "If the point of life is the same as the point of a story, the point of life is character transformation. If I got any comfort as I set out on my first story, it was that in nearly every story, the protagonist is transformed. He's a jerk at the beginning and nice at the end, or a coward at the beginning and brave at the end. If the character doesn't change, the story hasn't happened yet. " 

     "The reward you get from a story is always less than you thought it would be, and the work is harder than you imagined.  The point of a story is never about the ending, remember.  It’s about your character getting molded in the hard work of the middle."

Over the last few months, I've been in the process of my "story." I live in the "middle." I haven't given up, but I haven't fought very hard to "make each day stand out." I want to live more intentionally. Be more generous and sacrificial. Put more effort into the things that matter to me. Read more books, write more stories, send more letters. "People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen." 

I want to do the work. I want to take the risks. To join the parade. To make something of nothing.  To turn the TV off and get out my bike. To face the things I'm most afraid of. 


I will have a great story. 

The Parade

No one gets to watch the parade because everyone must participate.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Are you THAT couple?

Because if you are, I might talk about you behind your back. And by might, I mean I do talk about you behind your back.

But let's be honest, you bring it on yourself. So what would make you that couple you might ask? Well, since you asked, and you should have asked, or paid attention to when people get uncomfortable around you...I'll tell you.

Dear sweet, love-obsessed couple,

First things first, your PDA is out of control. Holding hands, a quick kiss on the cheek- great. No big deal. In fact, I'd worry if you weren't a little bit affectionate with your significant other. But rubbing each other's feet, sitting on each other's laps, or making out in public? No thanks. And while its just me and the both of you, I'm looking around and picking at my nails waiting for you to detach from each other so that we can have a decent conversation. Do I talk? Do I remind you that I'm there? Do I sneak away? Do I act like I don't notice? Because we're not getting anywhere with you sucking face. I'd like to leave, please realize that you're making me uncomfortable. So stop it.

And the pet names have got to stop. I know that your mate is the center of your world right now, but remember, there are still 6 billion other people to consider. No one wants to know that you call each other "Pookie" or "Superman"- that information is a little too personal for me to know and should be kept behind closed doors. If only because the general public throws up a little in their mouths when they hear you calling each other such sweet and endearing names.

I realize that you're in love and have a hard time being apart, but face it: there will be days and times where you'll need to be apart, and that is a GOOD THING. No one likes to hang out with someone for 1 hour and 43 minutes because that is all the time they have before their wife or husband gets home, and heaven forbid you lose a minute together. Friends want to feel valued if they're in your life, so make sure you come up for air and go out for pizza and drinks once in awhile. You'll thank me later.

So sweet, wonderful, full of romance couple- it's time to take a time-out. For my sake, and the sake of everyone else in your life. You're still great people with good hearts, and I still love you. But in the future, please be considerate of others.

Sincerely,

Your friend that sees a bright future for our friendship

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friends

I read a really good blog from my friend Daniel today. The whole concept is that of relationships. Vulnerable, raw, authentic relationships. Quite honestly, when God's not talking to me, I think He's trying to have us rely on each other because each of us is part of His body. I've made some great friends over the last few years, and I couldn't be more grateful than I am right now. My friends have walked with me through thick and thin, valleys and mountain tops, weddings and vacations. With each passing year, I find it easier to be myself. To understand the significance of other people in my life. Of accountability. Of empowerment. I appreciate those that I re-connect with easily and often. True friendships are amazing, but can be hard to sustain because they take work and flexibility. I'm learning how to be more intentional, even when it's awkward. But being intentional pays off in good quality relationships, 6 hour conversations over coffee, running errands together, telling each other things that might be hard to hear.

I've spent some great time with close friends lately, and I wanted to include some pictures of some of the people that have had the most impact on my life.

Our sweet friends at our wedding


Pineview Buddies


Church friends at our Christmas party last year


At a church service in Guyana with Bethel


In Napa with great friends from CA who lived in GA the last few years- I am who I am because of Daniel


Groundhog Day Formal

"Mega Oh" with Matt on a bus


This guy taught me more about God's love for me than I've ever thought possible


Christina and Richie- also in Argentina


David and Tyler trying to make their eyes water 

Me and Frankie in Japan- in a way I owe her my life. 

There you have it. Some of my greatest friends in the whole world. And some of these I talk to all the time and others not near as often as I'd like. But they all make up a part of who I am today. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ok, I guess I do want to write a book.

But what in the world do I write about?

A book about desserts, working out (well, thinking about it anyways), traveling and my pet cat would not make for a good story. I believe I've had some cool experiences, but how do you know what experiences are worth pulling from? How do you develop your own style or format? Do you focus more on external dialog or mental processing? Making relatable characters is hugely important, but I feel like I mostly relate to females between the ages of 16-24. I like girls that are prissy, that wear make-up, like to shop, listen to pop, paint their toenails and watch reality TV. Ones that are fairly insecure but can act secure around the best of them. Ones that will give up any responsibility for a good conversation. Who would spend a never-ending budget on Starbucks white chocolate mochas and caramel macchiatos. Who like to go on dates and have boyfriends and go to every party. Girls that have yet to really find their place in the world. Girls who've had hard times and come from broken homes, but will do anything to keep that from holding them back. Those are the people I relate to.

But let's be honest, that would make for a pretty superficial and LAME book.

I want to write an epic story, like The Kite Runner, or A Thousand Splendid Suns. Books that appeal to all generations and cut through any racism or cultural norms. That change lives and make people see the world differently.

I don't just want to write about a suburban white family because that is my life and my experience. I know there is more, and I know I'm going to have to utilize unique life circumstances around me to pull from. Here are some people I'd love to pull from:

Nuna in Beirut- Her mom died when she was young, and she was left to raise her brothers and take care of her father. She has 5 kids, is fluent in Arabic, French and English, and is a powerhouse of a woman. She'll go anywhere and do anything. Her husband is the softer one, but she is soft too if you can push thru the exterior. She's hard to read, always gets straight to the point, but will be the first to sacrifice if anyone needs something.

Lydia- Her family is Syrian, she was born in the States, but has lived in Kuwait her whole life...until now. Her brother has been in the States for college and her family wants to move here from Kuwait. Her family is funny, talkative, loud and incredibly hospitable. She's traveled the world and slides seamlessly between cultures and groups of people.

Jonathan and Sarah (who might read this)- He spent time in South America, and she spent time in Egypt. He proposed in Egypt and they got married in Colorado. They spent time in Georgia, moved to Turkey for almost a year, and are now back. She has worked and managed coffee shops all over Atlanta and has most recently been working for Goodwill as a Case Manager.

I'd love to include Omar, Alan, LeAnn, Kylene, Lisa and Dave too if possible. The only thing everyone has in common is living in exotic places. So I have one piece to my plot. Travel.

And maybe the main character will be female.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Artsy

I've been editing a few of my pictures from our California trip, so I wanted to share a few with the blog community. I'm just learning how to use the camera, and how to do different kinds of editing- so be gentle in your critiques. 




















Sunday, August 8, 2010

Candy and Cookies and Ice Cream, Oh my!

So one of my favorite things in life is dessert. Whether that be Double Stuffed Oreos or Dulce de Leche ice cream, I love dessert. Now I understand that most of you would concur with the attachment I feel towards my beloved sugars and cream. But for some reason, not everyone shares the same sentiment.

Enter- one of my biggest pet peeves.

I appreciate healthy people. People that work out, eat fruits and vegetables, take a multivitamin, etc. I try to do all of those things as often as possible. Healthy people are not my pet peeve. Healthy people that insist on telling you how healthy they live, are. I lived with a girl in college who ran a marathon and ate like a champ. She's beautiful and vibrant, and was always up for anything. I appreciated her because she was very healthy and made great decisions, but she didn't insist on talking about those decisions.

My roommates in college and I baked every day. We loved cookies and pies and s'mores and ice cream. It was fun because even the one roommate who ate more organically, would help us bake, eat cookie dough, or scoop out ice cream. She didn't make a big deal out of not eating those things every time we made them. And I appreciated that. I always felt beautiful and confident around her.

I feel like during this season of life, I'm surrounded by neurotically healthy people. People who not only want to eat well and exercise, but people who take 15 supplements, go on fasts, or do cleanses. I have a value system for people who want to be healthy. But I have become less and less confident around these people because they make me feel like a slob. All of a sudden...I have complex that I never had before. I know I'm not going to be a size 0, and I'm okay with that. I enjoy my life. I love the food I eat. I don't mind having a Coke every couple of days or eating one too many cookies. I think that's what makes life fun. But having people that are obsessive about weight and how they look, make me wonder what they're thinking about me. If they're a size 0 and are cutting back on carbs or sugar, what are they thinking about me as I reach for another slice of pizza?

I'm trying to decide if it's me that's insecure, or are they the ones that are insecure?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Calling all GIFT GIVERS...I need you.

There are many things in life that we do as adults not because we want to, but because we have to. It's the responsible choice. No one's doing it for you or making you do it, but you know it has to be done so you suck it up and do it.

I was thinking about this concept today on my way home from getting a brutal cavity filled. No one checked to make sure that I made the dentist appointment. No one called to make sure that I actually went to the dentist appointment (although I did reschedule twice). No one asked me how it went, or offered an easier alternative to 8 shots of Novocain in my lower right jaw. But for some reason, I manned up, made the appointment and went through with the torturous 45 minute procedure.

As I was driving home, I was deciding that there are certain things that adults do just because it's the responsible choice. And for those "responsible" things, I believe I, and all other adults, should get rewarded. A prize of some sort. Maybe a new outfit or a trip, a gourmet dinner or a day off work. Anything but the bill to have said cavity filled would be great. Heck, I'd take a candy bar or Starbucks coffee as a reward for being so responsible (too bad that's the whole reason I have cavities in the first place).

Some things I came up with that I believe I should be rewarded for:

-Going to the dentist Yep, I hate the dentist - maybe if I flossed it wouldn't be so terrible. But it is. Please pass the Skittles.

-Getting a check-up at the doctor I don't mind going if I need help, but I don't want to choose to have blood drawn or my finger pricked...or have some strange woman stick some god-awful instrument inside me to check for signs of cancer. No thanks. And yes, I'd like whipped cream and a cherry on that.

-Getting a cavity filled, having a root canal, or having a tooth pulled When I had my wisdom teeth out, my doc gave me a pint of Haagen Daaz ice cream. Obviously he saw the need to reward my courageous strength in deciding to put myself through that whole wonderful tooth-pulling episode.

-Having a child - Have people not realized that this has a suck factor of 3,000? Yeah you get a kid, but with that comes responsibility, a permanent drain on your finances, and a flabby stomach to remind you of the whole experience. Why yes, a Mediterranean cruise sounds perfect for this time of year.

-Cleaning your room, cleaning the bathroom, taking out the trash, doing laundry, and doing the dishes Nobody actually wants to do this stuff. But if I knew there was a reward waiting for me on the other side, I would work quicker AND do a better job. I'll take the dessert sampler thank you.

-Going to work Yes work provides you with a paycheck, but then you have to turn around and allocate that paycheck to every part of your budget, except where you really want it to go. ie: Anthropologie. This might sound surprising but I don't actually want to pay for electricity, water, my apartment, car maintenance, or my IRA. I'd much rather blow ALL of my money on clothes, jewelry, shoes, and Starbucks.

-Eating healthy and going to the gym Like I've said before, some people like these things...but I'm not one of them. If I eat well for a week and work out at least 30 minutes a day, I'd like a day at the spa...just to remind myself that I'm making good life choices. I'd hate for dessert to be the reward for this because it would then undo my oh-so-valiant effort at being healthy.

-Getting a colonoscopy I know those of you that have had one of these must be thinking "Are you kidding? Greatest experience of my life thus far. Laxatives, gas, wiping, and hospitals are my kinda thing. I'd do it again in a heartbeat- with or without a prize." But for me, this could be the worst out of all the things that adults have to do. A new car would suffice as payment. And yes, I'd like a red Lamborghini Diablo. Just deliver it to my door along with flowers, Starbucks, ice cream, and a new wardrobe. Thanks.

Monday, August 2, 2010

What I'd Do Differently

Patrick and I got married on May 17, 2008. It's been so fun and in some ways easier, and in some ways harder than I expected. As I go through the wedding planning process with friends, there are several things that I wish I could have done a little differently. It was still the happiest and best day, but I wish I was more comfortable with myself to have done a few things.

One: do my hair myself and put flowers in it. It looks so beautiful and not too "done-up", but I didn't want to stress myself out the day of by trying to do something with my own hair and take the chance on it not being great and not staying in place. So I went to a salon to have it done. I didn't love it, and it was definitely too stiff and "bridal"- but there wasn't anything I could do. It was not going anywhere.


Two: I would have skipped the open bar and just done a few signature cocktails. I think all the guests LOVED having an open bar, but it was so expensive. I think I was so obsessed with the "look" and feel of the wedding and wanting it to be a big formal party, that I was afraid if everything wasn't top notch...people wouldn't come. And I wanted EVERYONE there. So I didn't risk giving people a reason to not be excited about the celebration. But honestly, your friends will come and they'll love it no matter what. The wedding is for you, not them. 



Three: Skipped the favors and the limo. Both are traditional and fun, but having your own car decorated and packed is so much easier than getting a limo and having other people pack everything for you. Favors are a fun takeaway, but so many people left without theirs that it made me think it's not worth the money.

Four: My dress. In theory, I loved my dress. It had everything I wanted, and for the most part, I thought the cut was flattering. But looking back on pictures, there was too much fabric for me. I'm 5' 1'' and although the top was cut slimly, the rest of it was just a little bit too much. In some ways it swallowed me. I should have had someone take pictures of me in it (secretly because you aren't normally allowed to do that) and then look at myself from different angles. I know that sounds superficial, but you want to make sure you see more sides than whats actually in the mirror. 



The things I wouldn't have changed? Everything else. 

Some of my favorites though, include: spending the night in a hotel with all my bridesmaids the night before the wedding, bringing champagne to the hair salon, doing my own make-up, getting the cheapest invitations I could find, having a dj, getting my nails done right before the rehearsal dinner, and taking almost all of our pictures outside in the sunshine and by an old shed. 



Weddings are fun and they should encompass all of your favorite things. But sometimes its best to glean wisdom from former brides and to not be caught up in what people would think about you. I cared too much what people thought, and I probably would have been just as happy if I had been more willing to compromise on some of the details (and graciously saved my parents money). But alas, I'm better for the learning experiences and look forward to all the weddings that my future holds! Happy planning brides-to-be.