Subconscious Conscience

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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!

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.

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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.

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.

 

Trying to Stay on the Road

A story of ice and prayers.

As the roads grew icier, I could tell my car was becoming less and less phased by my foot on the breaks. I turned my music down and began to pray out loud. Now, I haven’t prayed out loud by myself in years and now I’m wondering why; hearing my own pleads for safety coming from my mouth made them all the more believable. Time was passing as the sun quickly went down. And just as my phone hit one percent battery life, I looked around, wondering what road I was on.

I had driven this path dozens of times without fail, yet somehow in my panic of the icy roads, I had missed my turn. Obviously my thoughts went to the beginnings of a soon-to-be murder mystery, Girl, Murdered on Ice. With no phone to navigate with and darkness inevitably falling, I opened my mouth again. This time I prayed for a sense of direction (which I had previously been blessed with) and also, that I would stay on the road. Saying this, I glanced over the road’s shoulder at the +10ft. drop-off.

Stay on the Road. Stay on the Road.

Soon, I began to recognize my surroundings, knowing exactly where I was. Unfortunately, however, the roads had now turned into a complete sheet of ice. I was beyond thankful to now be within miles of destination. I could breathe more steadily as I knew that if my car plummeted off the side, I could walk the rest of the way. I had gotten my composure together long enough to miss the signs of oncoming traffic coming around the corner.

I swerved to avoid the truck, resulting in my teeny, tiny car to start spinning. I was heading for the drop-off. Once I stopped screaming at my fate, I looked out the windows where I was sure I would see the ditch, only to find the road. Feeling way too close to a cliff and facing the wrong direction, I stepped out of my car. I circled my car and found one back wheel ever-so-slightly hanging off the edge of the street. Somewhere above, I imagine God had a big smirk on his face as he replayed my prayers to “stay on the road.”

My wheels refused to stop spinning on the ice long enough to drive forward, but I was on the road. God sure has a sense of humor in my opinion. I had to join in the laughter (along with my picture of God’s grin) as two gentlemen tried to help push my car back on the road, only to fall to the ground in this nature-made ice rink.

I made it safely, shaking as I drove the final mile of my journey – thankful for my life, thankful for my answered prayers to stay on the road. Indeed, I had stayed on the road.

 

Some days I am reminded of the lessons God is trying to teach me continuously. He was hearing my prayers, whether or not they were being said out loud. My car just as easily could have slipped off the edge. However, it stopped soon enough to stay on the road. If my car hadn’t spun around, I would not have been able to get out of the driver side door. This way, I could safely step out onto the gravel. I could have been stranded in the dark miles beforehand had this mishap happened sooner. Instead, two men were there to help.

In reality, it seems as though God had my safety in mind all along.

All Play and Some Work

As my final year of college is dwindling and “real life” is quickly approaching, reality is setting in.

It was bound to happen, I understand. I am becoming an adult whether or not I’m ready.

So, for my final winter break of college I knew I needed to make some money, but it was oh-so-nice to not have research papers looming over my head. I could take a nap without guilt. I could eat cookies in the morning (although that’s not as seasonally specific as you might have guessed). And I could work 40 hour weeks. 

I did work often, but throughout the five weeks of break I had plenty of vacation time. Not only did I fly to the Sooner state, but I also had the opportunity to experience the Caribbean sun. I thawed off frImageom this below zero weather pretty easily if I might say so. Returning to the frozen tundra of the Midwest was not fantastic, but it’s a fabulous feeling to walk around campus with an all-natural tan in the world of my pale friends.

Even as I am in sun-withdraw on this windy morning, today represents something greater: the beginning of the end.

It’s the start of my very last semester in college. I have waited for this day for years and now that it’s here, I’m shocked to say it’s saddening. The days of all-nighters, poptarts, and campus events are soon to be over. With five short months until commencement, I hope it feels a little longer.

Coming at you spring semester!

 

Ice Takeover

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Michigan was hit with a giant ice storm this weekend leaving hundreds of thousands without power. Trees were heavy with ice as they fell onto unsuspecting houses, cars, and buildings.

Luckily, our extended family’s house was safe from damage and we could sit back, enjoying the ice coverings. They made for good pictures as ice encompassed anything and everything in its dangerous, transparent moldings.

The weather wasn’t cooperative with a six hour drive home on unsalted, unplowed roads but the eventual drive home was well worth the wait. We drove through town after town of icicle-filled signs, bridges, stores and more. I’m sure it’s not a scene you want to see, but if you do – delay your plans to gawk a little.

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