Category Archives: Anecdotes

The funny thing about fear

Have you ever had an irrational fear? A sort of phobia that you just don’t understand, and neither does anyone else. To you and others, it seems like it would be so easily overcome, by just stepping out of your comfort zone, and trying. But you never do.

Why? Did something happen to you as a child, or a toddler? Something that was only so long ago that it is stored somewhere in your memory, but not quite recent enough for you to access. This something creates a fear, because this something went wrong. Seriously wrong.

I’ve had a couple fearful experiences growing up, that have affected me to this day, as follows:

I have a fear of roller coasters. Not the friendly, Disney world type. In fact, Mount Everest is my all time favorite ride. And that one is pretty scary, lesbi honest. But I am terrified of the big, Cedar Point monsters that fling your limbs all over the place and defy gravity. I could never do those, I have convinced myself, unless maybe its with my boyfriend (which I don’t currently have anyway). But why have I convinced myself of this? What even happened to me? The first memory I have of riding any rollercoaster whatsoever was at King’s Island, and it was so much fun! There is no psychological way that this happy experience could have caused a fear. But then I think a bit harder, and I remember my friends and even the media telling me that roller coasters can break down, and you can get stuck on them, maybe even at the top of a hill, and never come down. The cart could fly off the tracks and you could go explode! From a childhood standpoint, these visions were real. And they have remained real to me. Maybe one of my old favorite computer games is responsible for this fear. I used to love playing roller-coaster tycoon with my brother, and we definitely used to create malfunctioning roller-coasters just to kill the little animated people. It was so sick, and so wrong, I know. But we did, and I blame that pastime for my fear of these harmless thrillers. (I use the word harmless lightly, all of the things I mentioned, like death and malfunctioning, could very seriously happen, but only by a slim chance, and because I know very well that these occurrences are rare, I wonder why it is so hard for me to overcome)

I developed a hypo-thyroid problem somewhere along the road a few years ago, and I started going to Children’s hospital to get lab tests just to check the thyroid levels in my blood stream. Now, the very first time I went, they definitely missed my vein. They had it, and then they lost it, and it hurt like HELL. I cried a ton, and I’m about to cry just thinking about it. I still have to get blood tests, and I am not afraid of them. I still go to Children’s hospital, and I’m not afraid of it. But I AM afraid to give blood. Why am I okay with the thing that caused the fear? Why am I comfortable with the place the original fear occurred in, but I’m afraid to do something I haven’t even experienced? I wonder these things, because I have forced myself to be comfortable with lab tests, but I have convinced myself that I will never try giving blood, at least any time soon. I have no interest in prolonging a minute and a half of discomfort and pain into ten minutes of it. I go dizzy thinking about it.

Similarly, my sister refuses to wear anything with buttons attached. She has only forced herself to be comfortable with our school uniforms, because she has to wear them, just like I HAVE to get blood tests. But she WILL NOT wear anything with buttons by choice. She says this is because she choked on something when she was really little, with a shape and feeling similar to a button. I remember this day, when she choked. She was just young enough as to where she could never remember the exact event, but she knows it happened. And I was just old enough so that I could picture the event in my mind to this day. We were with our family friends, in a car, on the way to some event, and I was sitting on the floor of the van, because there were not enough seats. My sister was safely strapped in, thank goodness. The mother of my friends thought it would be a great idea to give all of us (around 5-7 years old or younger, some even 2 or 3) a mint to suck on! In a moving car. What strikes me as extremely odd is that she even gave one to my sister, not even 3 or 4 years old, and my sister choked. She choked badly. I remember us pulling over and my friend’s mom grabbing my sister and dramatically slapping her back (I laugh, because I thought she was just beating the crap out of my sister, and from my point of view, this experience was so odd). My sister was perfectly okay in the end, physically.  But this kind of early childhood experience can psychological scar you, whether you can access the memory or not. I somewhat feel bad for her, because there are a lot of cute shirts and blouses that I want to pass down to her, but she just can’t do it. Sometimes I wish I was old enough to have known what was going on, so I could prevent this traumatic experience from happening altogether. But it is what it is, and if she ever chooses to try, I know she could overcome it. Because I know I could overcome my fear of giving blood, or riding coasters. I just don’t.

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Hypocrisy at its finest

I apologize for blogging so much, so suddenly (in advance… there’s a lot coming for you guys). Sometimes my inspiration runs dry, and when I get huge inspirational explosions as I did today, I can’t hardly wait to write and write and write! I hope that instead of clogging up your feed, I provide you with entertainment and inspiration 😀

But I have a story, worthy of the story basket. That being, that I am a hypocrite and quite ironically at that. (I just used the word “that” three times in the same sentence… awkward.) So the other day, one of my good friends told me he drinks a thermos full of coffee before school everyday, Starbucks on the way home, and a red bull when he gets home. I was shocked at how much caffeine he drinks each day, and I told him to cut down, narrow it to one of those things a day, rather than all three. He said he was dependent on it now, and I said, “I have been abstaining from caffeine because I refuse to let my body rely on it to function properly.”

Well, half of that was the truth. I had been abstaining from it, for at least the short time of a week.  I guess I never really took into account that I had been pessimistic, emotional (which I always am, but recently in a more negative way), fatigued, and overall, sort of depressed lately. Until today. I had a bottle of Pepsi at lunch. After I drank most of it, I was already laughing, bouncing off the walls, motivated to do work! I made my friend’s day when I told her I was so excited she was in my life again! I was like, what is this feeling? I wanna go blog! I wanna participate in English even though I barely read the story! I want to get this Calculus homework done! The motivation and energy and inspiration exploded!

Then another mini-depression hit me, as I realized this burst of life had everything to do with the caffeine I drank at lunch. I remembered what I told my friend, and I knew I was a huge hypocrite. I have indeed let my body become dependent on caffeine, maybe not to wake up in the morning, but definitely to live to my fullest potential. Living on caffeine made me feel good, really good. This scares me. No wonder I’ve been feeling like I can’t be satisfied, that I can’t brighten other people’s days, that I just don’t have the energy to do my work or even smile. I need this drug. But should I settle for that? Or should I keep trying to abstain, if even once a week? Is it worth any risk whatsoever (even all those rumors that may or may not be true about caffeine) to be able to live full of energy, motivation, and happiness? I’m leaning towards… yes. I might have to start drinking coffee.

‘Tis the Season!

This Christmas was a good one. Even though it’s not quite over, it’s been really great so far! I didn’t feel the desire or need to form a list of things for others to get me, but rather went venturing out on Black Friday for the first time in my life to shop for my dearest friends and family. If I failed to get you a present, I am terribly sorry. It’s nothing personal whatsoever. It most likely signifies that I ran out of money before I got to you on the list.

But anyway, my point is, I wanted this Christmas to be completely about giving. I wanted my excitement to be founded in the generosity and love I would share with others, rather than an excitement in waiting to receive gifts for myself. So everything I got this Christmas was a total surprise. And I had a much better feeling afterwards. Every gift I received had more meaning, because each was something the person picked out for me, having to put thought into whether I would like it and what it would mean to me. They had no choice, considering they didn’t have a list they could mindlessly buy from.

Now, I’m sounding quite selfish right now. I realize that I’ve been talking about myself and how people had to shop for me, but I enjoy reflecting on how much more meaning this Christmas held because of that. I love every single thing I got from my family and friends because everything was a surprise and a gift of love. It was perfect, and I walked away happy. I came into it without expectation, and walked out with joy. This is a lesson I’ve learned many times and it’s one of my favorite pieces of wisdom. The expectations we form in our minds usually determine the outcome, so why expect anything?

Now I want to share with you a couple of my favorite gifts that I received today.

1. Tickets to the Trans-Siberian orchestra in concert on the 30th. My grandpa bought them for my family, and I am overjoyed. As I was handed the envelope, one of their songs, Christmas Sarajevo,  came on the radio. I made a comment to my family, “Guys! We should have gone to their concert!” And then I opened the envelope, and pulled the tickets out. It was a mini-miracle.

2. My grandma made me a crocheted rosary when I was born, and I’ve kept it ever since. I love it very much, and asked her if she could teach me how to make them. She is going to teach me, and she even made me a couple more. This is a really great gift to me. It was also a nice gift of quality time together when she taught me how to make them tonight.

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Cute little giraffe shipped to me from Africa 🙂

3. I got Hillsong’s album Cornerstone, the Deluxe version, which includes the full concert on DVD. I definitely wanted this. I listened to it on the way to my grandma’s today. I love it! Next best gift would be tickets to their concert. And I got a gift card to iTunes so that I can get Chris Tomlin’s album that comes out on January 8th!

4. I got a really cool giraffe shirt and giraffe nail polish. My sister even put this little giraffe key-chain in a little crate to make it look like it was shipped from Africa. Cutest thing ever. I love giraffes.20121225-171242.jpg

5. My brother’s girlfriend, God bless her soul, drew me a lovely picture of Rapunzel and her chameleon Pascal from Tangled, and I aspire to be Rapunzel and have my own chameleon someday. I love that movie. It’s by far my favorite. She also gave me this little Japanese cat figure that is believed to fulfill your wishes and dreams. I thought that was really neat because I love dreaming. She’s a sweetheart.

5. My mommy bought me a subscription to a seasonal magazine called Radiant. It’s a nice encouraging magazine for young women and includes modest fashion ideas and interviews about common experiences with love and life struggles. I love it already!

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I’d also like to give a special shout-out to my new cabin socks. I got these stockings in my stocking. Pretty cool.

6. Finally, I got an iPhone. Crazy, right? There’s no way. But it was a promotional item that came with my brother’s, and I am thankful for it. My old phone is getting on my nerves, and its a really nice gift. Completely unexpected. But awesome. My mom also picked out a custom case that’s absolutely beautiful. I can’t wait to put the case on my phone and call it my own! I rhymed 🙂

I think the best gift of all that I have this Christmas is the ability to love my friends and family and to receive their unconditional love for me. I am also incredibly thankful for my strong faith and gifts and talents. All of this is truly a blessing in my life and I plan on doing great things with it.

A reflection on the experiences of my mission trip to Cranks Creek, Kentucky

I… am literally speechless right now. But I have so much to say. I don’t know where to begin, so I must warn you readers that I will circle and weave around in an incredibly obnoxious way throughout this entire reflection.

To begin, I want to regroup my thoughts. Well actually, let me start off by filling you in on what I’ve have been doing with my life for the past four days.

I began my journey this past Wednesday. At about four in the afternoon, I jumped in the car with what I would now like to call my second family, my closest friends of the youth group I attend regularly. We drove to Cranks Creek, Kentucky, an Appalachian community struggling with poverty. Our mission was to collect, deliver, organize, and distribute food, clothing, toys, shoes, bags, coats, blankets, and home supplies to the people in need who live in that community. A man named Bobby and his wife Becky opened a donation center in an old barn nearby, and keep a survival center for the groups who come down on mission trips throughout the year. I rode down with an advanced team of about 18 people, to get the survival center and barn cleaned up and ready for our mission before the rest of the group arrived. Going down early was something I will never regret. It gave me an opportunity to be patient with myself while I acclimated to the new environment I pushed myself into.

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Bobby Simpson, God bless his soul

The trip for me was indescribable. (I say this as I proceed to describe every detail.) At the beginning, I was closed in my shell, being patient with myself, knowing that it might take me a day or two to warm up to the group I would be spending so much time with. In new situations, I take a little time to let myself totally free. But I got there, eventually. I spent most of my first two days in personal conversation with my fellow advanced team members, getting to know each one on a deeper level than I know most of my good friends. It was strengthening, and provided growth for me, offering new perspectives. I will go deeper into how these conversations affected me later. One of the big moments of the first two days was on Thursday night. The team visited with Bobby, and he told us riddles. We laughed together. It was a really good exercise of patience and listening, and helped me grow in both of those areas.

Most of the action (the events and moments I remember the most) didn’t occur until the main team arrived. On Friday afternoon, the rest of the group showed up. We organized clothing and food in the barn, getting a head start on our work. We also participated in a group prayer session, one of my favorite things to do. Saturday was one of the biggest days for me. We started off the morning with a Mass, given by a wonderful priest that came down with a group from Maryland to lend a hand in the mission. We continued with our work during the day, decorating the barn, organizing the clothes, moving the toys, and unloading and packing the food. It was crazy. We had music playing the whole time. It was a party. So much happened that day, I can’t even remember it all.

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The lovely decorations my friends and I hung

But I do remember a couple specifics. I had one of my best Confessions yet. I would say it was my second best, after my experience with Confession at CYSC this past summer. I mustered up the courage to pour out everything I had been holding in, and truly decide how I would ask for the Lord to help me improve and grow in my relationship with him. Amazing.

In the evening, I was given a wonderful opportunity to share in a group hug with four or five of my favorite people. And you may think this is too common of an occurrence to be special in any way, but this hug was special in every way. And the memory of the hug stands out among many. It consisted of a few people that had previously been a mystery to me for so long. One of them was the same little friend that I had my favorite reconciling encounter with (read below) and one of them included a friend that I got to know so well and that I now hold dear to my heart. The hug also included my group’s youth minister, whose personality I had not discovered fully yet. The fact that I was swept into this loving encounter with these mysteriously amazing people was just something I will never forget. I felt loved and included: a part of a family. And that’s what everyone needs. This loving exchange was amazing, in such a small way.

I remember another special moment. We took the afternoon to drive around town, visiting the homes of the sick: those who would not be able to make it to the pick up on Sunday. We visited a lady named Geneva. She was beautiful, inside and out. She had a nice big picture of her entire family on the wall of her home, and she took the time to describe each one of them. She told us where they were in life, and how they impacted her. She told us how she was looking forward to their visit on Christmas. She also told us about the many great deeds her neighbors had done for her. She even shared her sadness in the fact that a lot of her friends, even her husband (who she mentioned as being a great friend to her) had passed away. She was so open, and I was able to share in her emotion completely. It was a changing experience, because in that moment, I felt God’s grace in the work of mercy that I was participating in. I suddenly saw life through her eyes, representing the eyes of all the sick, lonely, or aged. They are all so loving and sharing, and often times in the past I have asked myself how they could be that way. How could they take on such a position to serve others with their love, when they were in such a position to be served? Talking to Geneva answered that question in my heart. These people know God, because God has never left and will never leave them. As they begin to lose those dear to them, they come to a realization that He is always by their side. They continue to develop a loving relationship, thanking him for their family and friends and everything they’ve been given. At that point in life, what else is there to really do? Being saddened and trapped in by sickness limits the ability to go out and be distracted by worldly things. So these people reflect, think, ponder, and pray. And it’s amazing. They hold so much inside of themselves, begging for someone to share it with. And when someone comes along, it pours out. And I thank God for the opportunity I was given, and ask that I be open to more, because not only was I able to grow in my sharing of emotion with Geneva, but she was able to pour out her love to us, a moment she had been so excited to have since last Christmas. Amazing.

On the way home from our house visits, we stopped at a Dollar General for a bathroom break. A little uncomfortable incident happened during the stop, which I would not like to share (don’t even ask). But the boy who caused the sudden distress felt terrible for causing it. And a little later, he came up to me with teary eyes, and asked me if I was okay. At first, my eyes teared up as well. I thought to myself, how cool is it that this young man is doing such a mature thing, to come up to me and ask for my forgiveness and show that he cares? To reconcile a relationship from even the tiniest amount of brokenness? My heart pretty much melted on the spot. So I said, “Please don’t feel bad, I’m okay!” And he said ok, and I gave him a hug. I might have to put this reconciling encounter up in my top five favorite moments of life so far. Amazing.

Another great thing that happened to me, not just on Saturday, but throughout the entire weekend, was the relationships I was able to build. And I built them from ground zero. A couple girls I had never actually met became my best friends, and another great friend I had never spent time with became one of the people I hold dear to my heart. How did this happen? The Lord really does work in our hearts, and when we are open to him, we accomplish great things. When we open our hearts to each other, we accomplish great things, with great people beside us. We become unstoppable and powerful. Life really is all about relationships and a journey. And there isn’t a thing about life that is truer. Once again, amazing.

Finally, Sunday was give away day. Cars lined the stretch of the road as far as we could see, waiting to receive their annual Christmas bundle.

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A car coming through the barn to pick up its order.

I took orders from each car, asking what food, clothes, and toys each family wanted. I asked for special prayer requests, and my friends handed rosaries to as many as we could supply for. I met one young woman, she was very sweet. She thanked me many times for my prayers and my giving heart. She told me about a family in which the parents are struggling with a drug addiction, and the children are lost without support. I shared my sympathy, and will forever hold her and the family in my prayers. Talking to people from all different walks of life is something that requires strength and understanding, and I don’t know how I did it. I walked into this task blindly, questioning my ability to impact each individual’s life in the way I longed for in my heart. But I did it, and it was awesome. The Holy Spirit shined through my works, his gifts truly revealing themselves from deep in my heart. ‘Twas truly Amazing.

That same day, I was also blessed with an opportunity to work on mending a seriously broken relationship with a dear friend who I have been struggling to communicate with. He was sent over to take orders, and I happened to be working there as well. I think that this task that we shared worked as a means by which we could communicate externally, about something completely detached from emotion. This enabled us to get along and act as friends for a good amount of time. I rarely have a chance to spend this kind of basic bonding time with him anymore, because we both have no clue where to start or how to go about it. I thank the Lord for this. I really do. It was so simple, yet so perfect. It didn’t compare to the deepening conversations I had had with so many others all weekend. But it was something in itself that was so full, because the simple encounter that we had mended all that needed to be mended at the time. This proves that patience in the Lord is really important to have, because he works through us in such small, unexpected ways which come about when we are just beginning to lose hope. I was just losing hope in our friendship. Now I realize it will be okay.

The ride home on Sunday afternoon was actually one of the most amazing parts of my trip, believe it or not. How can a seven hour road trip be better than an eight hour dance party in a barn? I don’t know. But it was close. I spent more than half the time pouring my heart out to my friends (my family) who had been by my side the whole trip. I felt gifted and strengthened to be able to speak everything I had felt and experienced since eighth grade year when my faith started playing a big role in my life, and I shared my reflections on self-growth and experiences I had on the trip. It was such a fulfilling conversation for me, receiving affirmation and love from my close friends and leaders. I can’t even describe it. It was amazing.

Lastly, I want to say that I was given a great opportunity to meet some lovely new faces and personalities that will serve as role models in my life, and I am so happy I met these people. It was great to experience their openness and friendship right off the bat, without any introductions. They just hit it off, and seemingly knew my name before I ever talked to them. Being surrounded by people like this for a whole week makes it hard to move back to a life of brokenness and healing, but I trust in the Lord that I can bring the love back to this life. The Lord would never ask anything of us that we are not equipped to handle. I am equipped. And I am ready.

I want to close by saying that this mission trip was life. I lived, and I lived fuller than I’ve ever lived. I lived for, with, through, by, and in others. I lived outside of myself, and don’t plan on stepping back in. Looking outside of me gave me the opportunity to gain an understanding of others, and myself. I was able to see who I used to be, and how I’ve changed to be who I am now. I can see where I’ve grown; I can see what I’ve learned. I can see who I am; I can accept it. I have more patience with myself than ever before. And the virtues and gifts just keep growing exponentially. It’s restorations like these that set my heart on fire, and it’s sad to me to realize that after restorations like these, I usually let the fire die.

Lord, thank you for the fire you set in my heart, to go out and do your work. Not only to do your work, but to spread your love and kindness in my work. Not just to take the journey, but to form strong relationships throughout. Help me to constantly feed your fire, and never put it out with sinful actions, laziness, or fatigue. Every time I encounter you closely, I grow more equipped to be an instrument of your love. Thank you Lord, thank you for sending your Holy Spirit upon me. Thank you for sending your love and salvation in your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

What I learned about myself/How I changed (in a nutshell):

I have acquired more patience with myself, in trusting my life to God’s plan for me, and realizing that I am sent to carry out his mission, and my life will fall into place the way it is meant to.

I should trust in my given abilities and talents, and never doubt something I am called to do.

I am able to share my thoughts and emotions so easily, filled with hope that the person receiving my ideas will be open. Even if they aren’t open, I share anyway. I learned that I need to share my love with everyone, but sharing my every thought with everyone isn’t always the right thing. I should share my thoughts and feelings with those who love me unconditionally and will affirm my thoughts and build me up.

If I take the time to breathe, and think between my words and sentences, I actually have a gift for speaking and finding the right words to say. I can be clear and explain things that seem unexplainable, if I just have patience with myself and give myself time. Previous to this trip, I decided I was too nervous to ever be able to share something without feeling awkward or dissatisfied.

In the words of the Lord, spoken through my dear friends, I acquired the knowledge that in the eyes of the beholder, I am crazy, fun, open, loving, lovable, patient, beautiful, selfless, forgiving,gentle, pure, clear, kind, filled with unending potential, weird, and truly amazing: apparently more than I know. Thank you everyone for showing me who I am, where I belong, and where I want to take my life. With God’s help, I will surely figure out how to get there.

I learned how to communicate efficiently and effectively (through observation of others and my own experience) with people who may be hard at hearing, or understanding, or confused, and to listen with patience to those who may have trouble communicating or may have accents that are hard for me to understand.

When I begin to lose hope among my brokenness or in seeing the brokenness of others, it helps to step back and watch the healing that the Lord is doing in us, through our encounters with each other. I learned to have more trust and patience in the Lord, because just when I start to lose hope, He finds some unexpected way to plant it back inside of me.

A lesson taught by Mark Twain, learned by experience

So I am in the mood to blog, but there seems to be way too much on my mind to blog … I know, strange. So I clicked, “Inspire me” and this is what came up: Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?

Could life be any more ironic right now?

Well, my strongest memory of heart pounding belly twisting nervousness is happening right now. Really, the only thing I’ve been feeling for the past week has been heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness. And its all because I took the gutsiest move of my life, asking a boy to Cotillion myself, to see what it feels like to be in the boy’s position for once. Well now I know what it feels like. I know what it feels like to be you, boys. I know what it feels like to have the horrible anxiety of what the answer will be, and the sickening fear of rejection. I apologize to anyone I have ever rejected, because the last thing I want right now is to be told, “I’m sorry, but I don’t feel the same way.”

My nervousness is not justified in the least. I mean, I shouldn’t be making a big deal about this. Like my teacher said, “the dances are supposed to be fun, and for those of you making it a big deal and stressing about it, you just took away the fun.” Great. So I’ve already ruined it for myself, and this is my SECOND blog post about it, so I’m obviously making a big deal of it! (Although I’d like to think I’m not) I mean, in my mind, this is totally justified. I like this boy. I haven’t talked to him in forever, and I have no idea how he feels about me, but I know he feels something. I see this as an opportunity to find out. To break the ice and be friends again. I miss him!

Maybe I should have learned my lesson from Mark Twain. All his satire on romanticism really must have gone in one ear and out the other for me. He pretty much warned me that trying to live an elaborate and romantic life would only set me back. Basing all my actions on my fantasies and desires is a habit of mine. Why do I keep doing it? Because sometimes it makes me happier. Could I have been more practical in doing this? I guess I didn’t think much about it. I just decided I wanted to, and asked.

I think that blogging about this has actually helped me clear my mind. I needed to clear my mind. I have a chemistry test next period that I am not at all prepared for. So wish me luck. For my test, mostly, but maybe for the outcome of this predicament I have placed myself in.

… And he said no. So I really did learn my lesson the hard way. And I only set myself back. And here I am, in pieces, wondering why we can’t just get past the awkwardness and be friends again. So much for hope. So much for feelings. So much for dreams. So much for chasing them. Where’s Huck when you need him? Or more importantly, why am I never willing to listen to him?

What causes me to remember

There are certain things in life that I take for granted, and don’t pay much attention to at that. There are certain things that I see everyday, and they look a certain way during the day. But have you ever noticed how fantastic and magical everything looks at night? For example, I drive every day. Every DAY. Not every night. In the winter, I drive at night more often, because night falls earlier in the winter. Even less often do I find myself driving at rush hour in the winter. And even less often, at rush hour, during the holidays, in the winter. This situation just got extremely specific, but I definitely found myself in this predicament today. I was driving home, in holiday traffic, at rush hour (around 5:45, when the roads are the worst). It took a while, but I was perfectly content, singing Taylor Swift songs and enjoying the scenery. THE SCENERY. Got a little sidetracked there, but the scenery I saw around me on my way home was what I was going to talk about. It was so beautiful! I never knew city roads could be so gorgeous. I never knew rush hour could be so beautiful. I never knew a traffic jam could be so pretty. And I certainly never noticed how festive the red and green traffic lights could be at this time of year! So as I was looking ahead at the seemingly endless string of lights up ahead, another thought came to mind.

I want it to snow.  A lot. 60 degrees this weekend? Great. If it was spring. But it’s winter. And honestly, I want it to be winter! I love snow skiing. It has always been a hobby of mine. I didn’t get to go at all last year due to the weather (that happens to be repeating this year, sadly). I used to take a ski trip with my family to Michigan every Christmas, and we’d stay for New Years. The resort we went to had a neat little New Year’s tradition. All the ski instructors and some nominees/volunteers would go up the lift with torches, and ski down the main run in a zig zag line. Then, the instructors would form the number of the new year. Two years ago, my instructor invited me to ski with them. It was awesome. I will never forget it. But I also will never forget my first New Year’s Eve at that resort, just marveling at the beauty of all the lights coming down the hill.

Seeing the lights of the cars coming down the gradual slope in the road, as I looked up at them, brought this memory to the surface. Remembering my winters in Michigan put me in a relaxed, happy, wintery mood. I love how memory can work like that sometimes. 😀

A perspective on stress

It was a stressful week. Like really stressful. Beyond belief. But until recently, I didn’t realize that what causes me stress has little to do with the amount of work and time that I have, but more to do with my anxiety of what is to come. How things will actually turn out. And how people will react. One day, I walked into Calculus after having waited all day to ask my teacher when I should make up the quiz I missed, and for some reason I expected a frustrated sigh and some reluctant answer. But instead, she was open and patient. She listened to me, and said I could take it whenever. This calmed me down. It took pretty much all of my stress away, and nothing that I had to do had gone away. I still had the same amount of time, and still had to take my test. Nothing had changed, except for the lingering fear in my mind that my teacher would not be very happy with me for missing the test. This brings me to my point. Kindness and patience are two qualities that, when we find them in others, can seemingly dissolve all the frustration and haste and worry we find in ourselves. If you aren’t stressed beyond belief at any given moment, be that kind and patient person for others who might need it. Believe me, you will make someone’s day.

A poor decision and an unhealthy anticipation

About a month back, I was looking to fill the second semester of my year with activities to keep my mind busy, and hopefully make me feel good about myself as well. Well, I had a lot of activities to choose from, and I wanted to do them all. But I was already committed to my youth group, and my service, which already took up three days of my week. I still wanted to do something with the rest of my evenings, and a couple enticing opportunities were brought to my attention. I decided to go out for field commander for my school’s marching band, and am currently taking lessons along with trying to find time to practice. But for some reason, I also joined my school’s indoor drumline. As if a full Monday and Tuesday and a full weekend wasn’t enough, I felt the need to fill my Wednesdays and Fridays, too. Something along the lines of, “hey, I bet it would be fun  to see how far I can push myself this year until I get so stressed and behind in life that I can’t motivate myself to do anything anymore” must have run through my mind. So here I am. And I am stressed beyond belief. I have no time to myself. No time to practice all the new things I am learning, no time to get better at anything. Life is racing past me faster than I can catch up. And I am behind. So why did I sign myself up for this lifestyle? What is this teaching me? Was it because I wanted to explore the other side of the band, having always heard the grass was greener on the drumline side? Or was it because I want to be field commander, and felt the need to get to know the whole group? Or was it because two of my best friends were involved in it, and I didn’t want to lose them? Or was it simply because I wanted to push myself, give myself something to be proud of at the end of the year, to surprise myself in doing something I never even imagined I could do?

Well, as usual, it turns out it was a combination of all of these thoughts, and maybe a few more. But I’m still trying to figure out how I am going to tackle the predicament I have gotten myself into. The last thing I want is to be labeled a “quitter” by one of the most respectable leaders I know, and some of the greatest kids I know, and even by myself. That is really the last thing I want. But I can’t do it all. I just don’t have time. I am anticipating disaster, and its an unhealthy anticipation. It only adds to my stress. Maybe I’ll get better. Maybe its just rough right now, because its all new to me. Maybe I should just take it moment by moment, day by day, and see how it goes. I’ll use every bit of free time I have to be productive in any way I can, and when I don’t have the energy to be productive, I will take a break, and then start back up again. Right now, I clearly need a break. I clearly need to relax and reboot. I need to clear my mind, so I can start running again.

Lame Confessions (to be continued)

I do a lot of strange things. Not really strange so much as just unique, or maybe not even unique, because I’m sure plenty of people do these things, but I guess I would describe these things as idiosyncrasies of mine that most people don’t really notice, or don’t know about me at all. And its these kinds of confessions that truly show who we are.

1. When I have an emotionally or mentally stimulating-enough day, I like to have quiet time. Like really, I just need 20 minutes to myself, before I feel ready to tackle the next period of constant noise and interaction. You may think this is normal, and everyone needs it, duh. Well, you’re right. But I don’t allow myself this kind of time anymore. I try to pack each minute of my day with some activity or work, because I don’t do well with a lot of free time. A time does come, though, where I really do need to sit by myself quietly. So let it be. (and if you bother me during these moments, I will bite your head off…not really)

2. Now that you have judged me as a vicious, violent, hostile-towards-social-interaction kind of person, you may feel inclined to exit my blog, for fear of what I’ll say next… Don’t. Really, I promise I’ll be nice now. Anyway, my second confession is that I don’t sing in the shower. Rather, I sing in the car. This is beyond normal, but I don’t just sing. When I get a drive all to myself (and I mean no one but myself in my car.. I look forward to these drives) I SING LOUD. At the top of my lungs. I put so much emotion into it, sometimes I blare the music so loud it seems the whole world can hear it. Why do I do this? It’s an outlet. It relieves stress, anger, sadness, frustration. Try it. It’s awesome.

3. I don’t read a lot of books. But when I do, they are either books from school (which happen to be good most of the time, and I am usually glad I had to read them) or autobiographies and writings by certain religious figures. Yes, this second category is extremely specific, but that’s really all I read. I’m reading The Private Writings of Mother Teresa… she’s amazing. Check her out sometime. Also, I personally think that some of St. Louis Marie de Montfort and Blessed John Paul II and St. Thomas Aquinas (of course) are amazing. I love philosophers and psychologists, and people in general, who are willing to share their story. They have such interesting insight and discover inner truths of the human self.

I can’t think of anything else right now. To be continued in Lame Confessions Part 2.

Observations on my sleeping habits (this post is completely uninteresting)

Over the course of the past two or three weeks, I have been tracking my sleeping habits and certain patterns of activity that I do every day. I tracked eating habits, water consumption, exercise, and caffeine intake. I threw in another variable for fun, to see if I was superstitious enough to believe it affected my sleep and life quality (this being prayer). I also made sure to record each day the hour I went to bed, and the hour I woke up the next morning, then proceeded to write down the quality of sleep I got that night and describe any dreams I remembered.

I will begin by summarizing all the data I collected and how each variable fits into my life. I will end each summary with a conclusion I have made about the effect each variable has on my sleeping habits, and how I can change that. I get an average of 6.8 hours of sleep each night, go to bed around 11:30, and wake up at 6:30 each morning. I rarely take naps, so I won’t even consider that a variable to take into account.

On average, I eat one and a half meals a day. Now, this sounds really bad at first, but let me explain my reasoning. This is quite rebellious of me, because I am in fact, a #rebel, but I think that leading up to my generation, we, as humans, have trained ourselves to eat more than necessary on a daily basis. My daily life consists of sitting in a hard, squeaky plastic chair all day long, or at least for the majority of the day. Yes, I need food to keep my brain activity up, but a nice light brunch sort of meal around 11:30 every morning and a nice big dinner every night seems to keep my brain working just fine. After all, I’m a 3.9 student, so don’t even try to pull that card on me. In my sleep log, I noticed days when I had eaten two big meals, or even three! (This is extremely unusual for me these days) This most often occurred on weekends, when I need more energy to do the things that I have scheduled for those days (because I actually have things scheduled for those days… considering I don’t have to sit in a hard, squeaky plastic chair for 8 hours). So those are my current eating habits, and they are becoming very regular and I am satisfied with them. Based off of my recordings, my eating habits did not seem to affect my sleep quality in any apparent pattern. I did notice one trend, and that was when I ate at least one big meal and one small meal, I recorded my sleep quality as great or excellent, and when I ate only one meal total, I either didn’t record my quality or had simply written, “Good.”  This might tell me that I should at least try to eat two meals a day, and I will have an easier time sleeping. Two meals sounds like a healthy amount, and anything less just sounds unhealthy anyway.

The second variable, water consumption (and I’m only including water; I drink probably three glasses of milk daily in addition), is something I never used to keep track of. After recording my water intake over the past fourteen days, I have decided that drinking a good amount of water every day is extremely important to my daily performance, mood, and sleep quality. I used to complain that I didn’t have time to drink water during the day, but that was simply an excuse for my lack of desire to create a habit of drinking more. Forming a habit is sometimes hard, and it wasn’t until I began my sleep log that I was able to form a good habit of drinking more water during the day. On average, I drink about three glasses of water during the school day, which is awesome! I drank at least two large glasses the majority of the days. On the days I drank 3-5 glasses, my sleep quality was marked as “excellent,” “great” and “awesome.” On the days I drank 2 or less, I simply wrote “good” or even one day when I didn’t remember drinking any, my sleep quality was described as “crap.” Water consumption apparently has a lot to do with the quality of sleep I get, and now that I know that, I can make sure I drink 3 or more glasses every day (along with my three glasses of milk of course #milkaddict).

The third variable, caffeine intake, has probably the most noticeable effect on my sleeping habits. I drank caffeine on seven out of the fourteen days of my log! I was shocked by these results, because I had no idea I was that reliant on caffeine! On the days I drank caffeine, I fell asleep anytime between 11:30 and 3 a.m. On the days when I did not drink caffeine, I fell asleep anytime between 9:00 and 11:30. Now that’s quite the difference. On each of these days, I woke up at 6:30 for school, so I definitely got much less sleep on the days I drank caffeine than on the days I didn’t. I would also like to add that I remember a couple days when I bought a Pepsi, and drank it while doing my homework. I would lose track of time and end up drinking it up until 10 p.m. By that point, it would keep me awake all night! What does this tell me? Cut down on caffeine, and don’t drink it after dinner!

The last two variables, prayer and exercise, were the two from which I didn’t notice any apparent results. The only two days I even got any real exercise were Sunday, November 18th and Monday, November 19th, on which I did a good amount. The days I got exercise happened to be on two out of the four days that I recorded great sleep quality. I don’t know whether this is a mere coincidence, or whether this shows that exercise entails a much better night sleep. Using my common sense and past experience, though, I know that it does, and I should try to get more exercise daily.

I spend a good amount of time each evening praying, this having a lot to do with the fact that I am renewing my Marian consecration this month, and it takes a bit of time. I have been getting anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour of prayer every day. I only recorded these habits to see if I could find some sort of correlation between my prayer habits and sleep quality, to enhance any superstition I might have. I would like to believe that spending a few minutes each night in silence and meditation would help clear my mind of worry and ensure for a good night of sleep, but my data does not reflect this hypothesis. I did not come up with any findings, for my prayer habits and sleep quality are way too random and unrelated. For example, I spent 30 minutes in reflective prayer on November 14th, and that was my worst night. Most other nights I only prayed for 15 minutes, and I had a much better time sleeping. I will conclude that prayer and sleep have nothing to do with each other, and I should just go on with my prayer life for the importance of it in itself.

As you can see, there are many factors that can affect how well you sleep or when you are able to fall asleep, and how well you are able to function the next day. To recap what I have learned, taking my medicine every night does more for me than I may think, two meals a day is a healthy amount of food, at least three glasses of water will keep me going for a day, and caffeine is unnecessary and shouldn’t be consumed in the evening. All of this will ensure for a much better night sleep and a more productive life in the long run.

Now to move on to part two: my dreams. Although I remember having more dreams than usual over the past two weeks, I don’t remember many of them in detail. I am a superstitious person and have a penchant to interpret any dreams I do remember. On the very first night, I dreamt that I picked out a striped shirt from my closet and laid it out to wear the next day. I remember going to bed that night thinking, “Don’t forget to pack clothes for practice tomorrow morning.” When I woke up, I even looked for the striped shirt I dreamt of. It wasn’t lying out, and I laughed. The dream’s purpose was to remind me of my first priority when I woke up, and it worked. The next night, I had a terrifying dream. It was so scary that I woke up feeling shaky, and I didn’t want to move. In the dream, I was babysitting a little girl and a little boy, and I had taken them to a place that looked like a combination of the swamps in Habitat Hollows, the new polar bear learning center and the little forest path at the manatee exhibit (all at the zoo). When we got there to play, it wasn’t long until the lights went out and the forest came alive. The branches started grabbing at the children and it got really intense. We ran out of the exhibit, grabbed our stuff, and I checked my phone. The parents had sent me a text saying they’d be home in two minutes, so I rushed back to get the kids in bed. This is where the dream ended, and after lying in bed for ten minutes soaking in all the action, I realized this probably had everything to do with the fact that I had babysat a little girl and a little boy the week before, and lost track of time while watching Star Wars with them. I almost forgot to put them to bed on time, and then panicked when I saw the parents would be home any minute. A couple days later, I had another interesting dream. I dreamt that two cars on the same day kissed the back of my car and left a couple tiny dents in it. When I woke up I thought it had actually happened. This dream sort of pointed out to me that I have this lingering anxiety that someone will look away from the road and not see me slowing down, and will slightly bump my car. This fear only comes from the fact that I come so close to doing the same thing all the time. One last dream I had was a short image of the new tights I had bought the day before, except instead of being red (their actual color), they were yellow. I woke up upset because I wanted to wear them to school so bad, but we are only allowed to wear red and white tights. Thankfully, a dream doesn’t change reality.

Overall, my dreams did not have any recurring themes or characters or moods. They were all over the place. The only thing similar about them is that they always seem to have some significance regarding events that took place the day before. They also seem to have to do with fears or desires or opinions that I have. I love dreaming, especially on the days where I have all the time in the world to just lay there and lucid dream for a while. (This only happens on Saturday mornings, if that.) At no point during these fourteen days was I able to experience lucid dreaming, but I have experienced it before, and it is so much fun. I would love to remember my dreams more often. They bring out inner truths and memories that I can’t always consciously access. Even if I have the occasional groundless nightmare, dreaming is the one mystery that makes complete sense to me.