Tag Archives: life

I remember.

There was a time when I was in love. I knew I was in love.

It was real, in a different kind of way. A way most people don’t understand.

I sometimes try to explain.

It never works.

But it was real.

You talked to me. I remember the first time we talked. I asked you a question, because you looked familiar. You turned red.

You looked at me. I remember the first time you looked at me. You looked at me from across the field. I looked back.

You thought of me. I remember the first time you thought of me. I still remember those words. I wrote them down.

You waited for me. You waited for me to fall in love with you. I remember when you fell in love with me. I fell too.

You walked with me. I lived for those walks. I remember the first time we walked. I told you I would be your walking buddy. You smiled.

You noticed me. And when you did, you made sure I was okay. I would tell you, and you listened.

You listened to me. You not only listened, but you always made it better. I remember the first time that you listened. I listened back. And you told me. You told me everything.

You danced with me. I remember the first time we danced. I had so much fun. We both smiled.

You loved me. Even when I cried. You held me when I cried. And you loved it. I remember the first time I cried. You told me I was beautiful when I cried.

You called me. I waited for those calls. I remember the first time you called me. I asked you why you called. You said you just wanted to talk. I smiled.

You wrote me. I looked forward to those notes. I remember the first note you gave me. It was small. I wrote back. I wrote a whole page.

You prayed with me. I remember the first time we prayed. It was amazing. We grew closer.

You laughed with me. I remember the first time we laughed. It was frolicsome.

You fought with me. I remember the last time we fought. It was scary. I cried.

But that time, I wasn’t beautiful when I cried. And you didn’t love me when I cried.

No longer did you fight with me. Laugh with me. Write me. Call me. Look at me. Dance with me. Walk with me. Talk to me.

But I still pray with you. I notice you. I think of you. I laugh with you, even if you don’t notice.

I sometimes dream of one day laughing with you, listening to you, talking to you again.

I still love you.

But I wonder. Do you still love me?

My Year in Review: 2012

My 2012 was quite the rollercoaster of emotion and experience, indeed. When I look back on it, a lot of really important milestones happened for the people in my life. This past year seems to have been the beginning of the climax of my life, and it will last for the next few years. There are themes of brokenness and hurt, moving on to healing and love, and then an explosion of faith and happiness. And because of this pattern of emotion that my year held, it was one of the best years of my life. My life took a huge swing upwards, and it hasn’t let me down. I formed/went through so many new friendships and grew unbelievably close to people. And although this has happened to me before, I have never been so sure in my life that these friendships will never go away. I feel secure and happy, and I feel the love. It was a damn good year. So here are my favorite moments of 2012:

-For the second year in a row, broke up with my boyfriend right before Valentine’s Day. (It’s not as depressing as you think, in fact, it makes me laugh, and I enjoy thinking about what might happen this year… it’ll be a story to tell the grand kids)

-In May/June, my sister and brother both graduated from a big part of their lives. My sister moved on to high school, my brother to college. It was an exciting month!

-That month my sister was also Confirmed and asked me to be her sponsor, one of the most faith strengthening challenges I’ve taken.

-I got my driver’s license, and I don’t even need to tell you how that has changed my life (fortunately, it has been for the better so far)

-Over the summer, I lived life to its true capacity (for at least a week), venturing out to CYSC for the first time and growing extremely deep in my faith.

-I dove straight into a volunteer camp that treated me with disrespect, giving so much time and receiving no gratitude, but becoming stronger. I don’t regret it. I learned who I was and how capable I was of standing up for myself and what I deserve, and I learned how to get out of situations that only bring me hurt and pain.

-I took an amazing vacation to New England with my family, somewhere I had never been before, and it was a blast!

-My parents had their 26th anniversary. I am so happy for them 😀

-I went to an amazing driving clinic, an unforgettable experience I have written about before and one of the highlights of my year.

-I went into marching band with a leadership role I didn’t know if I could handle. But by the end of the season, I took my leadership capabilities and passion for my band family to a whole new level, and really put my heart into it. I am so glad I was able to do this, because I feel that I truly became and inspiration to others in everything I did.

-Some of my cousins from Texas visited, and I haven’t seen them since I was probably 6 years old.

-By the end of August, one of the moments I had been waiting for for two years finally arrived. My sister’s first day of high school, when we could finally go to school together again!

– I was given the great opportunity to hear Chris Stefanick speak, and I loved it!

-Took an amazing mission trip to Kentucky that filled me with love and hope and gave me a new perspective on life.

-Made unbelievable friendships and have been blessed to keep old friends in my life.

-For the third year in a row, crying (in some way) on New Year’s Eve, and whether they were tears of joy or sorrow, I can’t imagine what that night would mean without emotion.

2012 was a year of building and maintaining loving relationships, becoming a part of new families, healing and growing closely devoted to Mary and the Holy Spirit, venturing into new opportunities and discoveries, and pushing myself past my limits and learning so much about myself. What a great year!

‘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.

20121225-171322.jpg
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!

20121225-171344.jpg
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.

Picture 072
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.

Picture 050
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.

Picture 048
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?

Dear me, (a letter written to me, by a future me)

I’m sitting on my laptop in my new apartment, with my husband, just checking my email and paying the bills. All the sudden, I hear a PING! The familiar sound of a notification coming from one social networking cite or another. But.. it isn’t some old friend commenting on my new marriage status on Facebook: “Oh, Karin! You two are so sweet together! I’m so happy for you! Sorry I couldn’t make it to the wedding!” Yeah, I get it, you’re too busy or too timid to live life anywhere other than behind a computer screen. But that’s ok. I’ll take it 🙂 Well, I think to myself, It couldn’t be my email… I just checked it. It can’t possibly be Twitter… I stopped tweeting back in high school when I realized my thoughts weren’t really that share-worthy after all… WAIT! My thoughts… I swear I remember writing out my thoughts in way more characters than a tweet could ever hold….I turn to my husband, “Sweetheart, I have a confession. I wrote a blog when I was in high school. I mean, all my friends had one, so I made one too. I’ve changed, and this isn’t really me anymore…it’s actually kind of embarrassing.” My sweet, loving, understanding husband proceeds to say, “Aw, honey, don’t worry, I won’t judge you. We were all stupid high school kids once.” I smile. And then I type in that unforgettable web address, karingirl.wordpress.com. Karingirl. The embarrassing email my parents created for me as a child, which I soon grew fond of. After all, I’m Karin, and I’m a girl. Where’s the shame in that? It’s much more creative than the email I created for myself, keforstho. What is that? Pieces and parts of my name? I come to the realization that maybe my parents deserve more recognition than I offer. Anyway, I type in that web address, and low and behold, the little notification star in the corner starts blinking orange. How could this be? I haven’t even touched this blog in years, and my friends haven’t seemed to be using theirs either… the blog connections sort of died out a while ago. So who commented on my blog? Slowly but surely, I move the mouse over to that eager notification, and click it…

It turns out, it’s just one of those anticlimactic “Andy237smiles likes your post “Lame Confessions” Awkward. Of all posts, this random blogger who I have never met now knows my personal secrets. And even worse, I just shared with my husband a plethora of my awkward high school thoughts, this being my biggest confession yet. Oh, the irony. Thanks for shoving it in my face, Andy237smiles. Good thing you have 237 of them, because I’m sure as heck not smiling.

My life momentarily caves in. But not really. I’m just dramatic in that way. (and even now that I’m grown up and married, I still am. I hate to break it to you, past me.) But I do get a little upset, thinking to myself, Why did I write all of this down? Random people know about me! This crap is forever documented! My friends probably didn’t even care that much. What was my purpose? Wait… what if my husband actually found out about me through my blog?  Soooo many nerve racking questions come into my brain. I begin over thinking it. Thinking maybe the man I am now in love with actually pursued me on my blog before he ever had the guts to in real life. Awkward. Awkward. AWKWARD. Life, at this point, could not be anymore awkward.

Eventually, I let it go. I realize I’m happy. I have landed a solid life, with a best friend who cares about me more than anything right by my side. The awkwardness is in the past. There is nothing to question. Life is what it is. And how I got here, I do not know. But what does it matter?

Dear future me,

I laugh at your story, because it is exactly what I fantasize my life being like when I’m you, hopefully sooner than later. I realize this revelation of my stupidity will someday happen. But for now, I love writing. And blogging is just what I’ll do. It’s momentary satisfaction, and this hasty satisfaction is typically frowned upon. But blogging is pretty harmless, right? I mean, even the consequences you have told me about aren’t all to bad. If blogging like this gets me a great husband, heck, I’ll take him! Haha. That was a joke. And a momentary regret is something I’m willing to sacrifice, because blogging is just way too fun. Thanks for the heads up.

Love, me.

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.

My all time favorite animated shorts

THE HAIRBRUSH SONG: BROUGHT TO YOU BY SILLY SONGS WITH LARRY

LADYBUG’S PICNIC: THE GREATEST SESAME STREET SHORT EVER MADE

MITOSIS SQUARE DANCE (it never gets old)

KING OF 8

THE LETTER T: YET ANOTHER SESAME STREET SHORT (more modern, yet just as great, and quite hilarious)

GERI’S GAME: A PIXAR ANIMATION (This is the first one I ever saw, and it was at the beginning of A Bug’s Life, one of my favorite childhood movies)

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.

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.