Subconscious Conscience

20140404-125858.jpg

With this Midwest winter lasting what feels like an eternity, clearly many of us are counting down the days until we can comfortably take a walk outside, go jogging without a parka and have a picnic that’s not on top of a snow mound.

The past few weeks, I have been dreaming of the beach. It’s always different – and somewhat crazy.

I don’t ever remember the full dream, but last week I dreamt I was trudging along in a snowstorm with moccasins on (a horrible, soggy decision). I was going to give up and fall into the snow when I saw a buoy ahead of me. I knew there must be water near. Once I had gone far enough, there was indeed, a beautiful beach!

Most recently, I was dreaming of relaxing in the warm California sun (a beautiful escape from reality). I flew back to Chicago and the “border patrol” said I was refused entrance into the Midwest – on account of being too tan and becoming a traitor of Wisconsin.

I don’t remember how that one ended, but I’m sure they revoked my Midwestern accent that day.

To all my fellow Midwesterners, I apologize for betraying you in my thoughts. Here’s to several more months of winter!

Because You’re Fresh

Summertime come soon. Bring back with you the freshness of fruit, the colorful world and the juiciest life.

I love my fruits – and my citruses. Once you bite into them, it’s like a whole new, happy day is coming alive.

I’m finding my inspirations in the things that make each day fresh. Long live the colors of newness.

JUSTINA-BLAKENEY-CITRUS

 

Giant Anthills

I can’t help but wonder how universities look from above. Not all metaphorically or anything, but literally hundreds of feet above us all in the sky.

Most likely, I’ll never know. What I do know is that even on the top floor of the student union, glancing down during busy times, all the students look like little ants. For a while there will be no one walking in between buildings and the next second there is a flood of students dashing out from their classrooms.

My little portion of life in college is full of anthills.

We’re all moving from one hall to the next, running out of classes like they’re on fire. Heading to study like it’s our mission. Working for some success.

Ants carry huge loads on their back trying to make a living for themselves. Just like students.

Classroom to classroom. Lectures to essay assignments. We are trying to make a living for ourselves. All the while, we carry the burden of our backpacks emotionally and physically on our shoulders.

Thankfully, I’m not an ant. Partly because I think they’re gross and partly because much of what they do ends up being insignificant.

I can make a difference, and I am significant in my anthills.

 

The Pages Ahead

This road of life we are on is so strange sometimes.

It’s odd to me that near the end of college and the beginning of career, what I want most is to write. And write. And write.

But what I find myself doing less and less, is writing.

I write for classes. I write for the school paper. I write for resumes and cover letters. But I don’t write for myself. I jot down bullet point lists and have a notebook full of ideas, yet can’t deliver in my personal creativeness.

Well, that’s no good.

Can you imagine writing at this desk, with this view? Writing Table, Leeds, England  photo via things

My discipline hasn’t gone anywhere, while my schedule may have.

In all my chaos I seem to have lost time for what I enjoy most. Luckily, I’m still young and creative writing is still inside me waiting to be used.

The sun is still overhead and as long as that’s still true, I’ll know there’s something to write about.

Not-so Cookie Cutter Lives

Last week I went to a lecture and the speaker said something that’s really resonated with me since then. She said,

“Our stories aren’t out of books, they’re not cookie cutter lives. But good or bad, it’s our job to share our messy stories for the sake of the movement.”

I had to let that sink in for a while. Now, she was referring to the women’s rights movement, but I think what she said is so very relevant to much more.

It’s always seemed to me like people want to hear the happy, feel-good stories rather than the hard, still-struggling ones with unknown endings. But maybe that’s not so true.
For whatever sake, we should share our stories. Good or bad, our stories matter.

Sometimes we can give off the impression that we do have neat, story-book lives when in reality, we could be made up of somewhat difficult pieces.

Just like when snow covers the ground flawlessly, I am easy to forget all the dirt and grim underneath.

20140313-151941.jpg
When snow is so beautiful, it’s simple to focus on what it looks like now without remembering all it took to look like the picture perfect scene.

Trees went through a lot to get where they are now, blanketed with winter. Their leaves went through the color-changing process, falling when they finished to a pile on the ground. Mud and dirt filled the brown earth before the snow arrived. And soon, ice was all around, threatening car and walkers alike.

But then, all the change suddenly seemed worth it on that first snowfall.

Looking out the window overjoyed at the beginning of this new season, how soon we forget the frozen ground left behind.

So whether our lives currently resemble fresh, fallen snow or like the melted, messy passing kind – it’s up to us to share our stories for others’ sake. We share to let others know they’re not alone in this fight, to remember we’re not cookie cutter, and to see how much we’ve been blessed.

Ways Not to Find a Job

It seems like yesterday was New Years. And today it’s March.

Just yesterday I was a freshman, walking into classes intimidated by the scary upperclassmen. And today I am 10 weeks away from graduating. I can’t believe how quickly college has flown by, now It’s already time to start looking for jobs.

As I prepare to look for my first position in the real world, there are a few sure-fire ways to fail before I even begin. Here are just a few:

Sit back and wait for a job to come to you. Last fall, when the first inklings of my future were popping into my head, I would freak out about what I would do and where I would go in life. There was never any action taken, just nervousness. I would wish for a door to be open right in front of me. This isn’t exactly the best way to find a job worth looking for.

Post trashy pictures on Facebook. The other day I googled myself and couldn’t believe the pictures that showed up. Things from high school, and pictures I had linked to other friends. Not only was I wigged out to see memories I hadn’t even remembered myself, but I can only imagine what would have flashed on my screen if I had been some crazy party-er. Nothing’s ever private on the internet.

Make a resume full of generalized adjectives. I cringe when I see resumes that include “friendly, team player, self-starter.” How extremely nondescript. I’m sure you won’t set yourself apart with broad terms like these. Put some extra effort into your individual, positive characteristics

Typos, anywhere. You can’t prove to an employer you’re perfect for a job if you write something with the wrong they’re/their or your/you’re. Yikes, proofread everything you send in.

Word vomiting in an interview. Over-sharing your life story can be a little TMI for someone who wants to hire a stable, hardworking employee. When I get nervous, I ramble on and on and on. This could put me at a slight disadvantage, possibly exposing too much.

Even thinking about these things gets me worried about finding a job. But above all else, it’s proving to another person why you are perfect for the job. So whether or not you slip up in one way, you can be have hope in a second chance, although it may be for another open door.

Winter is Dead and Hope is Alive

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” – Anne Bradstreet

After nearly no physical exercise this winter (minus the yoga at home and the winter walks) I ran outside today. I ran in the 35 degree Wisconsin weather that is similar to a refreshing summer day. And although I am severely out of shape, the sun cheered me on and the melting snow puddled under my moving feet.

I was reminded of the gift of sun and comfort of warmth. It all brought me back to visions of England life, where the weather was always drab and those beautiful few days were filled with joy.

As we have endured, and will continue to endure as more snow arrives tomorrow, the cold winters build a foundation for thankful springs.

Author Anne Bradstreet had it right. All of our trials and challenges give us hope for better times. The times we are fighting ourselves and the tragedies of life, build a foundation for thankful times. 

If this is one of those not-so-great seasons in the valley of desperation, be reminded of the seasons on the mountain tops. Hold onto hope for a better, happier tomorrow but also be grateful for the growing season you may find yourself in.

 

For the Love of Dancing

Some days I unknowingly enter into this mood where I need to get up and move. I need to dance.
It’s fairly silly and highly unreasonable, considering I am not a dancer. I don’t dance, and I don’t try to – as a general rule. I’m like Kevin James’s character in Hitch, with only a few humiliating moods. People would tell me not to dance if only they knew what it would look like.

kevin-james-18-1

This afternoon, I was in one of these “moods.” I just had to dance and luckily, no one was home.

I danced my heart out, freeing myself from the stress of school, the worries of my future and everything else.

Try it yourself and watch your worries melt away into the the rhythms of your moves.

[Extra points if you go for the Q-tip, making a pizza or starting a fire dance move]

Do I Believe in Myself?

You can only fake it for so long before you either have to give up, or start believing in yourself. 

I’m graduating from college in several months, and it’s time I stop faking it

I started college with the intentions I would have my undergrad degree in four years, and immediately begin graduate school to pursue counseling. Sure, psychology was interesting to me, but I never actually pictured myself counseling people. It was a nice idea though. Helping people using psychology was a passion of mine, but a career? Not so much. I found the classes exhilarating to say the least, so it wasn’t a matter of whether I enjoyed the subject or not. I loved hearing how to analyze people and find out why people do the things they do. Nevertheless, I had good intentions without thinking realistically. 

For someone who isn’t too fond of going to classes ever, seven (plus) years of college shouldn’t have even been on the table. What was I to do, switch my major to something more practical like business or education – two careers I am not cut out to work in? No. 

Instead, I coasted along within psychology, fascinated with the classes and the theories rather than the actuality of a future.

Writing, however, was just a hobby. I never believed I was talented enough to make it. Journalism is a competitive field, being revolutionized as we speak. It’s difficult to work towards a career you don’t think you’re fit for. And the more I wrote statistical research papers in psych, the more I despised them. This isn’t me, I would think. These papers cannot be my life. Rather, I liked the creative, somewhat-opinionated form of writing.

What doesn’t fly in writing though, is thinking you can’t write. Sure, I can whip out a great theological or investigative paper for a class, but do I have a vocation to be a writer? I won’t know until I start believing in myself. No one wants to interview someone for a job who doesn’t think they belong. You have to want it, and think you deserve it. Whether its writing or teaching or leading, it’s what you want you to do – what you think you are great at.

So here ends the faking it, and here starts my future. And hopefully someone out there deems me worthy of a job in writing. https://i0.wp.com/12ptcourier.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/hireme.jpg

The Case of the Skewed Identity

I’m not very good at receiving compliments. I’ve never been good it. If you were to compliment me, you’re likely to hear a quieted, murmur something like, “uhh…yah thanks…” If you were to ask me about my identity or self-image, you’re likely to hear some evasive, nondescript version of, “I guess I’m pretty.” or “I think I’m healthy?

It’s a fairly skewed perspective.

I can’t trust my own perspective of myself though. I’d be nuts to believe everything I thought in the uncertainty of my heart. My daily emotions would leave me unhappy, broken and just plain confused.

Instead of leaving my identity up to myself, I have to rely on something or someone else (this is where the compliments kick in). I can get a self-esteem boost from hearing a fantastic compliment about my style or my hair or my personality. It honestly feels great…until you don’t hear those compliments often. Then this happens: “Oh, no one has complimented me or told me how great I am, so I’m unsure of who I truly am.” The compliments fail. Image

            (Photo by Ty Carlson)

So, take out the compliments and where is your self-esteem at?

Let’s check the mirror. Depending how we look and feel, a mirror can be a nice judge or a terrible one. Recently, I discovered my cracked mirror that was resurrected several months ago, has been reflecting a cracked image of me. Literally. After months of checking the mirror casually, glancing at my outfits, deciding which colors look best together, I find out the broken parts have affected the rest of the mirror. This so-called “reflection of me” has been tacking on a few extra inches to my width! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I pushed the glass back together and saw a body different than what I was used to seeing.

If I can’t count on compliments and can’t count on mirrors to tell me who I am, where will I turn to?

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.” Ephesians 2:10 

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God.” 1 John 3:1

“You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.” Song of Songs 4:7

Turn to the truth of who you are, not what this world or your mirrors or your friends are telling you. We are so much more than our own opinions.