I have been dreading writing about this again ever since my maternal grandma passed away nine years ago. Grandma had always been a bit frail as long as I could remember, and with congestive heart failure, I always knew it was only a matter of time until I had to say goodbye. I was upset, yet prepared, when she left us.

I was left with only my grandparents on my dad’s side, and at that point in time, they seemed invincible. They travelled all over the country, lived easily on their own, and even made a big move back to the East coast a few years ago. I was elated to finally spend time with them on a regular basis. We celebrated Grandma’s 90th birthday a year and a half ago, and Grandpa’s 95th just this past March. As long as I can remember, they both have been energetic and healthy.

But in the last few weeks, my grandma has been having health issues. Pain, nausea, and general discomfort. The doctors say cancer. No one can agree on exactly what it is, or how much time she may or may not have left.

Typically, my grandma is very talkative, but after an appointment last week, we sat at her kitchen table in silence. I think we both knew time was winding down, but how do you even acknowledge that?

I am not ready for this. How does one ever prepare to lose someone so close and dear to them?

As cliché as it sounds, all I can do is make the most of the time left. It could be a few months, or longer. There are still pies to bake, and scones to try, and if we’re really lucky, a trip to Chesapeake, Newport News, and Virginia Beach. I suppose only time will tell at what memories are left to be made.

Memories… let them fill your mind, warm your heart, and lead you through.”




Procrastination at its Finest

I have two papers due on Thursday so naturally I’m writing here instead. It seems to help to clear my head before I begin concentrating on academic matters.

A lot of things have been on my mind lately. Classes are nearly over, and next semester should be my last. Of course, God loves to throw curve balls, so it may not be. I’m starting to look at my options after I finish, and as usual, I’m overwhelmed. I was talking to my pastor about that on Sunday and he encouraged me to view those options as a positive. I know that in my head, but it’s still a lot to think about.

I want to do something that fulfills me. I don’t need to make a lot of money. I want enough to be comfortable, as well as afford to travel. Other than that, I just want to work in a job that brings life to me as well as others.

I recently took the Myers-Briggs test again. I tested as an ISFP. Having identified as an ENFJ since high school, this was a bit shocking. I took the test another 3 times to be sure. ISFP every time. So I took it on another site. Still ISFP. I need to do some research into this and think about if this actually matters in my daily life. I do think the Myers-Briggs assessment offers some good insights into personality types, but I don’t think it should necessarily define a person and keep them in a box.

I recently invested in a Fitbit fitness tracker. I have to admit, I was a bit cynical about the device when they first arrived on the scene. But lately I have become more aware that leading a sedentary lifestyle is harmful, especially to future me. I’m planning on writing more about how my habits have changed in the last few weeks, but I want to give it some more time to really track my progress. I will say I have become much more active in little ways daily and I do feel much better, physically and emotionally.

I’m looking forward to this semester ending and getting to travel again. I’m planing on finally visiting Virginia again, specifically the area that my dad’s family is from. My grandmother’s family arrived in Mt. Pleasant (a neighborhood of Chesapeake, VA) in the early 1900’s and were leaders in a church there. I’m excited to also visit Newport News and see the home my grandfather helped his father build when he was a teen. I can see the places where my mom’s family has lived, worked, etc, very easily, so I’m looking forward to the family history in Virginia. Other trips include Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. I’m also considering another trip to California in celebration of my 30th birthday. Hopefully that’ll cushion the blow of turning 30. The other week I was asked if I was still in the youth group at church, so at least I still look young.

After seeing the new Beauty and the Beast movie, I have been steadily listening to the soundtrack. It’s a perfect accompaniment to writing papers.

Which, speaking of papers, is exactly what I should go focus on.

Overanalyzing and English

Overanalyzing has always been my curse. I’ve always looked for deeper meanings behind conversions, events, and interactions. I struggle with not taking things at face value. Someone says one thing, and I spiral into an inner dialogue about what was meant behind it, how it was said, and why it was said.

It’s so frustrating to live this way.

I always wondered why my brain operates this way, but I never got a clear reason.

However, I might have gotten a clue the other day in my one English class. My professor is one I had a few years ago and we didn’t jive too well back then. However, this semester she is becoming one of my favorite professors, along with a few others.

We had just wrapped up Ulysses (well, most of it, anyway) and we were discussing our final thoughts on the book. James Joyce was so innovative (and frustrating, if I’m being honest) who saw and wrote about the world very differently than anyone before him.

As most of us were complaining about him, our professor asked an interesting question.

Do you think because you are English majors, you view and experience the world differently?”

At first I wasn’t entirely sure what she meant. But then a classmate brought up how she constantly feels a few steps behind everyone because she’s trying to figure out what a certain conversation or event meant.

Well, that sure sounded and felt like me.

It never occurred to me to connect my overanalyzing to my aptitude in English.

As an English major, I am taught to search out deeper meanings in literature as well as in any form of communication. I assumed that I just picked up that skill easily and that was what led me to pursue English. But perhaps my tendency of overanalyzing is why I relate so deeply with the study of English.

I certainly have my gripes with teachers pushing students too hard to find deeper meanings in something simple, such as why curtains are a certain color. There isn’t always a deeper, hidden meaning and it can be very frustrating to put so much time into that. But frequently there is a lesson to be learned that isn’t spelled out in black and white. You have to look for it. You engage with the author and enter their world.

Literature exists to teach us about life but it is also meant to be enjoyed. 

I think that’s what I need to remember. Sometimes I need to be searching for deeper meanings and lessons in life, but other times I just need to enjoy life as it is.

Winter is like…

that really long, annoying song that plays over and over and no one turns it off.

Winter is like that family reunion you really don’t want to go to.

Winter is being stuck in a traffic jam with no hope of moving for six hours.

Winter is like listening to President Trump speak.

Winter is forgetting your cup of hot tea on the counter and coming back to it cold.

Winter is like burning cookies.

Winter is like missing your connecting flight.

Winter is like getting to your favorite coffee shop right as it closes for the night.

Winter feels like getting stuck in a conversation you want no part in.

Winter is like reading a 45 page legal contract.

Winter is like getting in the express checkout lane and having someone with 27 items in their cart in front of you.

Winter feels like Netflix trying to load after losing connection.

Winter is like driving through fog praying for a glimpse of the sun.

Winter is like trying to write in the middle of terrible writer’s block.

But spring is like…

The 110% Girl

It’s hard being the girl who is 110%. The girl who would move heaven and earth and anything in between to make her friends happy. The girl who chases after friendships and pours her all into them. The girl who does all of this and doesn’t ask for anything in return. She’s a bit proud of her loyalty. When she befriends someone, she intends to keep them as a friend for life, or for as long as possible.

But it takes a toll on her. She puts on a smile when someone bails and says “It’s okay, I get it,” but late at night, the tears come hard and fast, and she wonders why she isn’t enough. When people just walk out of her life with no followup, no “hey, it’s been awhile,” no explanation; she struggles to feel like she’s enough. When all she gets is a “maybe next time,” she knows that it means never and maybe she should just give up.

I know exactly how she feels because I too am that 110% girl.

It’s hard to talk or write about this because it feels like I’m complaining. I hear myself voice these feelings and I feel ashamed. I have really great friends in my life who have supported me. I have friends who I don’t see that often, but we can pick up right where we left off. For that I am grateful. These people remind me I am enough.

But on the days when I reach out to a few people who have disappeared from my life and I get the feeling they’re okay with things staying that way, those are the hard days. Because I find it so hard to let people drift out of my life, I have a really hard time when people so easily let me slip out of theirs.

But I also don’t want to be intrusive. I don’t want to be the friend who forces others to spend time with someone they don’t want to. I don’t want to always be the first to text someone or initiate plans. I don’t want to chase people. It’s exhausting.

It’s exhausting because sometimes I wonder if I stop chasing people, will I lose them? If I stop initiating, will they just assume I don’t care anymore? I’m afraid that if I don’t reach out, I’ll realize that this friendship was one sided and the reason they even did things with me was because I asked and they didn’t want to hurt me by saying no. I don’t really want to find that out, to be honest.

But what I (and others) need to remember is that my worth is not dependent on what others do or how they react. And because I give 110%, people in my life know my loyalty and care for them as people. I can live with that comfort, and remember that on days when giving 110% is especially hard

Look, you love harder than anyone I know. It’s tough to match.”

– Ann Perkins, Parks and Recreation

Some of us love harder than others. Because sometimes, people need that constant reminder that they’re valued. And if I am the one to remind them of that, then I will continue to channel my inner Leslie Knope and love hard.

The Great Unknown 

My horrific semester ended last Wednesday. Okay, it wasn’t really horrific, but it sure wasn’t great.

Thursday morning at 5:07 am, I waited in 16 degree temperatures for a train to take me to Philadelphia. From there, I got on a plane, waited an hour while mechanics tried to fix said plane, and finally 6 hours later, landed in Los Angeles.

The moment I landed, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. I’m not sure it’s because I idealize California, or if it was my soul finally feeling free. Maybe it was the realization that my only commitments were a Christmas concert at church on Sunday. It might have been the 60 degree temperature. Whatever it was, I felt relief wash over me.

There’s something so special about reconnecting with old friends. When I was in California last time, I only had a few short hours with Kristi. I knew that wasn’t enough. This time we had about two and a half days together and it was so rejuvenating.

When you spend time with someone who just “gets” you, you feel so valued. We talked through some things that I had been pondering, as well as writing about, for a while. I think my thoughts are slowly starting to come together. This semester did not allow much breathing room. Having time to process some things was very freeing.

I know I’ve said this in another blog post, but California fits me. I love the laid back and chill attitude, the warm sun, and the palm trees. It feels like home. Something in my soul sighed contentedly.

Of course, the idea of moving is overwhelming. It’s a huge change from my small corner of Pennsylvania. And I don’t know if it ever will manifest in a move, but feeling a sense of belonging there made me realize that moving to California isn’t just a pipe dream. It’s something I might end up pursuing. I’ll be finished with school  by this time next year, and I’m way more open to a big move if given the opportunity.

Last night I was thinking about all these things while designing some Christmas gifts in Illustrator. NEEDTOBREATHE came across my playlist and this line spoke to me

Cause if you never leave home, never let go, you’ll never make it to the great unknown.”

Okay NEEDTOBREATHE, I hear you.

I think it’s true, though. I have to be open to leaving behind my comfort zone. If I never leave, I may never experience the great plans God has for me. And I know God can use me wherever I am, but I also want to take a great leap of faith.

This winter break I’ll be putting in more time and effort into an editing job. My dad is a general editor of a book for a very specific theology, and he’s taking me on as a copy editor. I’m really excited to start this job of editing. It will be something I can show potential employers and that’s thrilling and terrifying.

It’s all starting to fall into place. I am reminded every day that life is a series of following God’a path. You never know where that will lead you.

Hope Will Be Our Anthem

Tuesday after class, I drove to a place that played a large part in my faith as a child. I pulled into the familiar parking lot, noting the absence of my favorite boulder and tree. I followed the “Vote Here!” signs down to the basement entrance to my childhood church. I pulled open the door and walked into a fellowship hall that holds so many memories. I had Sunday School class in a section of that room. We had fellowship dinners and funeral meals. Good and sad memories came flooding back, but at the heart of it all, was a solid Christian faith base.

Something about going to vote in a place that taught me so many things about Christ, his sacrifice for us, his unending love, and acceptance was a baffling feeling. The choices we have been given this year in the election are so antithetical to the things I learned there. In my opinion (which is strictly that — MY opinion), no candidate reflected any of those qualities that I was taught to value.

For awhile I cared about the election so much. I cared so much to the point it literally made me ill. I couldn’t sleep. My heart would start to race and I scoured the internet daily to find a shred of evidence to calm my nerves. It’s not surprising that I didn’t find it there.

But while I was out of the country, I was able to forget about the election, or at least not be bombarded with political news every single day. It was refreshing, to say the least. When I returned, it was hard to not fall right back into that routine. It became even harder when a particular candidate said very offensive and threatening things about women. Don’t get me wrong, I was still informed. But I tried really hard to not let it consume my thoughts.

When I walked into that basement, I wasn’t entirely decided on a candidate. There was one I absolutely knew I would never support, but I knew that a year ago. And to be fair, who I voted for was not a candidate I could fully support either. But at least this candidate did not threaten minorities or demean women. Both of those things do not come from Jesus, and it was important to me to make sure my choice reflected that.

So in a new era of presidency where we hear things like sending refugees back to terror-filled lives and building a wall between us and another country, I am saying NO.

I won’t accept that hate. I can’t change a president’s policy, but I can choose to love instead of hate. And as a friend said earlier,

If society builds walls, I will raise my children to tear them down”

I think he nailed it on the head. Our job now is to speak out against hate and to raise our children with the values that come from Jesus. The values that I learned nearly 20 years ago in that basement are going to shape my life and will be my prayer.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7-9) 

We must continue to live that command.