Blogging Brainstorm

The last few days I have been feeling inspired. No, scratch that. The last 24 hours I have felt inspired while the previous day or two I was feeling a little bummed out. Job searching brings on a lot of disappointment and rejection, and it’s hard to combat those feelings all of the time. It’s not something I want to dwell on, but something I want to be real about.

What has me pretty excited is blogging. You know, this thing I do sometimes, right here where you are reading. I’ve been thinking about all of the different things I want to write about and what you might want to read. I’m very much a collaborative thinker—get me in a good brainstorm session and I am totally energized by all of the possibility and potential. So tell me, faithful readers…what would you like to hear about? How can I improve my storytelling? What sounds interesting to you?

Just drop me a line…landline, email, text message, comment, whatever. Tell me what would make this blog worth reading. What inspires you. What motivates you. What mistakes of mine you can learn from. What stories you want to hear.

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Thursday Three

This week has felt like the longest shortest week I can imagine. It’s as if time took its own course this week. I kept looking to my calendar thinking it had to be Thursday. It just had to be. For the working world, it was a short week so we can celebrate the nation tomorrow with barbeques, fireworks and red, white and blue summer bliss. For me, time just seemed to go on and on as if I was holding my breath while walking for miles.

1. Birthdays do not have to be a one day event. Over time I’ve found I’m much more of a one-on-one person or a small group person. Big parties aren’t my scene on a regular basis. So, instead of a big party, I had several get-togethers with people throughout the past few days. Nothing major or overdone, but some good people and time well spent. My birthday itself was a rather long day. All of my planned activities happened on other days so I found myself alone for the majority of the day and decided I wouldn’t allow myself to run any errands or search for any jobs. I did do a little cleaning, but I was glad to do it. I got a treat and headed to the art museum. I tried to reflect on everything I thought or felt, but you can only do that for so long. Furthermore, I had a hard time figuring out what it was I actually wanted, be it for lunch or in the next month.

(This painting has mesmerized me the last few times I’ve visited the museum. Is she tired? Upset? Sleeping? Praying? Checking her phone?)

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2. When there is an interview, everything else is put on hold. I had a few interviews these last two weeks, nothing worth getting into just yet but it’s been good to have. It’s boosted my confidence a bit. But let me tell you, if there’s an interview scheduled for 4:00 PM in the afternoon, there’s a chance I will cancel coffee at 10:00 AM for fear it might run late. Sounds ridiculous, but I think this might have also caused some serious slow-ness to my last week. I get so focused in and try to learn everything and say answer all of the questions well that I end up spending hours at home researching before I realize how stir crazy I am about to get. It’s been overwhelming at times, but good.

3. Timing does not always go as planned. There’s something about the weather that I love. We cannot control it, try as we might. There’s no penciling in a hurricane or counting on clear skies and sunshine. Loss is another thing you can’t always plan for or fit in with your schedule. Somewhat unexpectedly, my grandpa passed away this morning. This, all while my grandma, who he married 56 years ago and should be celebrating an anniversary with tomorrow, is in the hospital awaiting a possible surgery. This, all while my cousin, his granddaughter, prepares to get married this weekend 900 miles away. The timing is tragic. Having another grandparent pass away this summer seems too soon.

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There’s so much more I feel I could or should say, but nothing else seems fitting at the moment.

Happy Birthday Indeed

I’ve been given some extra special attention this birthday. Thank you to all of the friends and family who acknowledged the day is some way or another. Cards, meals, well wishes—all were appreciated. But I did get a few extraordinary items that I feel need to be mentioned.

His and her undies. I have to say, didn’t expect that one. I’ll let all of my gift-givers remain anonymous unless I hear otherwise, but it was quite the surprise to find this in the mailbox.

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Camera for the collection. Over time I’ve acquired quite a few cameras from various thrift stores and garage sales, so I was delighted to be entrusted with one more, one so different from the rest.

The gag gift of all gags. Apparently there was some super sale at a dollar store which included these sweet little sponges supposedly to provide a little extra support. The waiter wasn’t sure what to think when I unwrapped this one.

Happy Birthday to me. Yep, I got a gift for myself. I’d been wanting to own this since the minute I finished watching it the first time. Lo’ and behold, the day before my birthday it was on sale at Target. If you haven’t seen it, please do—the cover is misleading but I promise it is so much more than a couple’s love story.

A little piece of home. At the end of the night, the hubby gave me this long desired necklace to show some state pride. The photo is clearly a selfie and the lighting is poor, but happy to share it anyway.

Thanks everybody!

Thursday Three

Today has been a good day, which makes me want to proclaim that I love Thursdays. You have to agree, they tend to be a better day in the week, statistically speaking. Here are three things that have been happening this week!

1. GOOOOOOOOOOOOAL! I have recently joined the World Cup bandwagon. I’ve always been an Olympics enthusiast (to put it lightly) but hardly even knew when the World Cup occurred. For some reason this year I decided it was time to learn all about it. I spent much of my Monday researching all of the ins and outs of it, so by the time today’s game came around I was pumped. Go USA! Although they did not in fact win, they are advancing to the next round. Crazy, right?

2. We love where we live. I think I’ve mentioned this a time or two before but it seems like I fall in love with it over and over. We love our cute little yellow house that holds parties and people. We love our neighborhood and getting together with all of the great people in it. We love this city that has quickly become our home (and will soon be home to two new awesome people that are friends of ours!) and that we get to walk around downtown on a random night and pop inside the latest new restaurant a day before it opens. We love putting our roots here. Literally. I know our little garden doesn’t look like much but it’s grown a lot here and so have we.

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3. The job search is still on. This week has been better though. A bit more hope and a little more general okay-ness about the situation for the time being. I’m also reading 48 Days to Work You Love and am enjoying some of its inspiration and information. I’d encourage anyone else questioning their job situation to pick it up at the library as there’s some good info. Or buy your own copy so you can highlight the heck out of it instead of taking a bunch of iphone pictures to remember it by.

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A Dating Story

The couchsurfer that stayed with us last week had many things to say and talk about, but one of those things was dating. Currently from Houston but otherwise from India, he asked what the foundation of the dating culture in America was. (Did I mention he was some type of scientist that I don’t even fully know how to pronounce? Yes, he was quite intelligent and processed life in a very technical way, which is different from the way I see the world.)

We were taken aback by the question. What was the dating culture all about? After a pause, the hubby said something along the lines of maybe we weren’t the best example of American dating. But in thinking more about it, I’m not sure there is a perfect example of what American dating should be.

There’s the stereotypical high school or college sweethearts…or there’s the statistically more common date-and-marry-in-your-late-twenties. For some reason sometimes it feels like this country assumes you do one or the other, but I don’t see why. Everyone has their own story and that’s okay. I don’t think ours is necessarily the right way, but at the same time I’ve come to terms with it not being the wrong way either. For a while I strayed away from the topic and definitely avoided mentioning our ages. It felt like I would receive one of two responses—either instant judgment for how young we were (yes, sometimes out loud) or immediate agreement that young love is the way to go. The thing is, I know we were young and I don’t think it is for everyone…in fact, I’d even go as far as saying that I don’t think it’s for most. It was hard and required sacrifices, but I wouldn’t trade it.

This was our story. It wasn’t always full of whimsy or ease, but we did fall in love and continue to do so more and more every day. 

Our Dating Story

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We met the summer I turned 18 and he turned 20. We were young and just starting to feel comfortable in our own skin (despite what you may think in the unflattering photo above). I usually say we met at a Battle of the Bands—which is totally true but conveniently makes it sound rather epic. He was that cute keyboardist dancing along to the songs while playing in my friend’s band. The guy I was with at the time (read: someone else who was nice but is now happily married to a lovely lady and living in cold Minnesota) wasn’t particularly thrilled when I voted for someone else’s band…but I went with my gut. A short time later, that fizzled out. A group of friends soon formed consisting of the guys in the band and the girls who hung around but refused to accept the term “groupie” (still true). It became known as the best summer ever. We went camping, met weekly for noodles-and-tea and shared bits of our lives with each other.

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Summer came to an end, and we all headed different ways for college. The question was never “to date or not to date” but rather, “what do we do about these feelings we have for each other?” After a few long talks and some dancing in the rain (literally), we parted with the understanding that we weren’t going to date. Well, that didn’t last long. While I tried to find feelings for some of the guys at school, he complained that some girl (that’s me) was “wrecking his life” in the best way possible.

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We struggled to date from a distance. It required each of us to put our heart on the line and put things that were right in front of us on hold. We wrestled with doubt and insecurities—both as a couple and as individuals. Somehow, we had to determine what dating should look like and what was to be expected of one another. We didn’t always see eye to eye on that, but we liked each other anyway.

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Long distance wasn’t easy, but ultimately we decided to try and make it work. I ended up transferring from a school in Missouri to a school back in Iowa…a week after he moved another two hours away to live with his band in another town. For the next few years it stayed long distance as he pursued his dreams and I pursued mine. We knew we were young and this was the time. I studied abroad, and he focused all of his energy on music. Being in different locations meant we spent a lot of time on the phone and had to learn how to communicate and invest in our relationship without being together all the time. We ran into issues and fought, particularly when we questioned whether our dreams aligned. We weren’t always sure if we fit, and some friends/family doubted our connection especially considering my lack of music involvement.

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At the core though we knew we shared the same values and vision. We loved God and we loved people. We viewed hospitality and humor in the same way. We felt called to live in grace and love

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While I was studying and traveling the world, he managed to secure a full-time job and some stability. A few months after I got back, he got down on one knee. I graduated from college and found a full-time job as we planned a wedding. It was a stressful and crazy time of engagement that he likes to refer to as the “best worst time” of a couple’s life. Of course we knew we were young, perfect strangers wouldn’t let us forget it. We also knew that we loved each other. We had pursued our own passions but wanted to do life together. We committed to loving each other from then on, so, at ages 21 and 23, we said I do.

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What’s the foundation of dating in America? I can’t speak to that. For us, it was a relationship rooted in love, a genuine interest in each other and a willingness to see where that led.

Remedies

I can’t help but feel like right now I am trying to shake out all of the remedies. I’m sad? Oh! Well, hide it. No, admit to it. Think happy thoughts. Feel the pain. Eat chocolate. Work out. Help someone else. Ask for help. Maintain a routine. Do whatever feels right.

Ah! It’s like I’m trying to kick a cold as fast as I can.

I don’t know what the answer is going to be here. There’s probably a combination of all of the above that will occur. Truth be told, I want this gloominess to be over and out. Let’s get back to the good and happy. But I’m going to have to wait this out. You can’t slap a bandaid on everything and expect real healing. There’s something important happening when we face trials—perseverance.

Thursday Three

Hey there, Thursday! That day of the week that compels me to write at least three things is here. And just as a side note, you are more than welcome to share your three things, too. I started doing it because Friday Fives sounded like way too much work (what with it being two whole extra things), but it’s been a really great way for me to recap my week with the Thursday Three.  Try it, you might like it. How’s that for a ringing endorsement?

1. There’s one big thing on my mind, all the time. It’s that job search. There’s lots of things that get wrapped up in all that this summer has been, and it has been hard as I’ve mentioned before. So let me just say now that I’m sorry if it sounds like old news to you. There’s not much of an update other than the fact that I am still looking every single day. It’s a big part of my life right now, but I’m hopeful.

2. Friends are vital. At church we’re doing a series on friendship and for one of the illustrations the pastor had us all write down five friends. To be incredibly honest, I think half the audience stopped listening to the rest of the illustration because they got so caught up in who they wrote down. I’ve heard a few people talk about what they wrote and what they gathered from it. It was a good moment to reflect on friendships. Who are those five people in your life? Are they good friends? What kind of influence do they have on your life? Do they know that they are super important to you? Do you feel like you need more friends to get to that five? What kind of friend are you?

3. Our society has a strange connection with media and technology. Sometimes it’s good to just be. In my downtime I can’t help but notice how much I try to fill it with social media, Netflix, movies, phone calls, internet searches and just time looking at a screen because I don’t know what else to do. I fear for the outcome of that dependency in our culture. We lose out on so many life happenings because of our dedication to these mere devices. I’m not about to say it can all be given up, but I want to remind myself that these are just tools and should be treated as such.