On being older than I feel….

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I seem to be in a constant state of feeling young v. feeling old. Really old.  While I typically feel pretty good about my age, my body, my emotions, my general state of being, sometimes I just plain feel old. Like when I think about how I’ll be 34 years old when I have my first baby. My mom was freaking 29 years old when she had her third (and final) baby. I panic when I think that I’ll be 52 when my first baby graduates from high school. When my mom was 52, I was finally getting my crap together and finishing undergrad, my sister was finishing her Master’s degree, and my brother was starting his Master’s program (at Harvard. Show off).
But then I remember that, most of the time, people think I’m at least five years younger than I really am. And that makes me feel fabulous! I often wonder: is that because of how I look? O how I act? If it’s the latter, that might be a problem, so I choose to believe it’s the former.
I’m incredibly active (when I’m not nine months pregnant) and I pride myself on taking pretty good care of my mind and body (I could do a better job of caring for my spirit sometimes). I guess the adage is true: You’re only as old as you feel. If that’s the case, I feel a ripe old late-20s. In fact, I may just celebrate my 30th birthday from here on out.
Let me be clear: I do not fear getting old. I have quite possibly the greatest example a girl could ask for of how to grow older with grace and bad-asssery. I could spend a lifetime talking about watching my mom turn 30, 40, and 50. Her 40th is the most memorable to me, but I think she really pulled out all the stops when she turned 50. I often have to be reminded that both of my parents are just a few short years away from turning 60. That just doesn’t seem possible. I am convinced they’re 54. That’s just how old they’ve been in my head for the last several years. I mean, my parents are ballroom dancers, my mom has recently considered taking up running again (something she did every day until she banged up her knees pretty good when I was probably 15 years old…hmmmm), my dad takes pilates classes and rebuilds ancient cars in his spare time. My mom swears we’d be an unstoppable team on The Amazing Race and my dad still loves watching cartoons (as any self-respecting adult should, at least from time to time). They’re both in the best shape of their lives, at least as far as I’m concerned.
I see photos of my parents from decades ago and it feels like I’m looking at photos that were taken yesterday. My dad still wears dashing suits and tuxes whenever he gets a chance and would still build a sphinx out of snow (something I’m looking forward to him doing with my babies). My mom is still fashion forward and introduces me to new music all the time.
So when I think about getting older, it doesn’t freak me out. It makes me think of all the radical things my parents have done every year since I’ve started paying attention.
I think I’ll just keep celebrating my 30th birthday until I turn 40. Then I’ll celebrate my 40th for a few years until I hit 50. I won’t worry about getting older. I want to embrace everything that comes with it. I want to enjoy every second of it. Far too much time is wasted on complaints and fears when I could be dancing, running, or wearing glitter and 6″ stilettos. I’ll be acting as old as I feel.

On fighting with the family…

holiday-traditions

And so begins the holiday season!

The leaves are changing and the weather is definitely getting colder and gloomier. For the east coast, this happens much later than I’m used to. In Colorado, if it hasn’t snowed by the time we’re donning our Halloween costumes, we start screaming about heat waves! And then Mother Nature will smack us upside the head with a 5° day. Aaaaaaanyway…
This time every year, I start thinking about all the traditions my family has that have been around for as long as I can remember. There’s the “creepy Santa” and the Christmas Adam party, we always make way too many cookies (which allows us to gorge well in to January), listening to The Beach Boys while decorating the tree seems perfectly normal, my dad’s turkey gravy which is undoubtedly the most delicious gravy you’ll ever eat, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade followed by the dog show followed by football. There are a million amazing things we do every year.
But probably my favorite thing we do every year, without question, involves “the fight.”
That’s right. I said it. I love the family fight that ensues every single year on Christmas Eve.
And it’s all about soup.
My dad makes this amazing spicy creamy potato soup with bell peppers (and, more recently, andouille sausage, which I don’t enjoy, but can pick around). We have always – ALWAYS – had this soup for dinner on Christmas Eve. We have soup, crackers, and cheese, then we watch A Muppet Christmas Carol (skipping that awful song that young Scrooge’s girlfriend sings), and make our way to our church’s Christmas Eve service. It’s been this way since at least 1996. My mom and I have facts and sources to back up this claim. Yet every year, my dad swears that he makes potato soup for lunch on Christmas Day.
Dad: Okay, so what time do we want lunch on Christmas? Soup sound good?
Me: Seriously, Dad. Every year? It’s always for dinner on Christmas Eve.
Mom: Why in the WORLD would we eat lunch on Christmas Day? We have a huge breakfast, snack all day, then have a hug dinner followed by the richest dessert. Soup is on Christmas Eve!
The fight has become something of a joke for our family now (although I suspect my dad will one day enforce the Christmas Day soup). But I don’t imagine we’ll ever go an entire holiday season without having that fight.

On unexpectedly falling in love….

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I was asked the other day how I’ve felt about my body since I got pregnant.

It was a hard question to think of an answer to, at least initially. I don’t know a lot of women that like talking about their body image, regardless of if it’s good or bad.

In a matter of seconds, I ran through all the things I hate about my body. All the things I’ve been self-conscious about my entire life. All the things that make me feel ashamed or not good enough. All those feelings of insecurity and failure came screaming back at me in a split second. I remembered the fact that I’ve struggled with an eating disorder and that some would say I have a slight case of body dysmorphic disorder.

And I opened my mouth to answer the question and the following came out:

“My body is f**king bitchin’!”

I have no idea how or why that came out instead of everything or anything else. I could have complained about how fat I feel some days, that I’ve gained nearly thirty pounds, that my pelvis has hurt since 22 weeks and sidelined me from running, that I can feel my butt rapidly expanding, that my thighs are HUGE (and weirdly pock-marked now), that I spend more time sleeping than awake.

There are probably a million things I could complain about.

Instead, I became absurdly proud of the fact that I’m growing a human. My body is doing this amazing thing that it was designed to do. And even though that means some weird and not terribly attractive side effects (let’s not even get into the gas and the acne and the constant need to pee), I know that it’s all perfectly normal and it’s supposed to be happening.

Running has prepared me for this is ways I didn’t think it could or would. I got pretty hurt during my first distance race a few years ago. I really messed up my knee and it required weeks and weeks and what felt like months and months of recovery before I could start training again. But what I learned (other than patience, which I lack a great deal of) is that if I respect and listen to what my body needs, my body will pay me back in spades. I ran a 10K two months after hurting myself and I paid for it. So I waited another two and half month before attempting another race (this time a 5K) and it was a little better, but not great. So I took even more time off and by the time I ran my next race, I felt like a million bucks…and ran my fastest time which resulted in me signing up for two more half marathons which I was able to run like a champ.

Pregnancy is similar, it would seem. If I just listen and allow my body the rest it requires, it will (hopefully) give me everything I need to get this baby out and in my arms. So yeah, I’m choosing to be in love with the marks and the aches and the expansions and every other weird or awful thing I’d normally freak out about. Because those are the things that have to happen.

And I’m okay with all of it.

Scratch that. I love every damn second of this!

On sticking around….

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I wish I could say I’m a master of some sort of something. I’m not. I’m the epitome of “jack of all trades, master of none.”

I can bake, cook, do makeup and hair, write, sing, dance, play piano, plan the crap out of weddings and events, and sell cheese. Just to name a few. But none of them have I ever really taken the time to master. I enjoy doing all of those things. Every last one of them. I just don’t know if I have the gumption to really go full-boar into any of them and learn all there is to know.

Despite that, there are several things I’d love to know everything about. I’m talking, I would wish them from a genie. Specifically, I want to know all the languages and all the ballroom and Latin dances. I’m passable with Spanish (please don’t test me) and can be pleasant and courteous in French and Japanese. But there is no way I could have a full blown conversation with anyone in any of those languages. I took ballroom dance lessons for about five years and because pretty damn good at foxtrot, waltz, Viennese waltz, salsa, swing, and cha-cha. I even competed a few times. And whenever I see my dad, we cut a pretty good rug. He’s one of the best dance partners I’ve ever had! When I really think about it, I could probably throw everything I have at dance. I’m never not happy when I’m dancing. I get frustrated when I can’t figure out a step, but I’m never not happy. The same goes for singing. It pisses me off when I can’t find the right harmony, but I’m always happy when I’m singing.

As it tends to go with my life, I seem to always be most interested in the most expensive possible options. Ballroom dancing, craft beer, bourbon, shoes…you name it, I want the best of the best. I’m a “go big or go home” kind of girl.

Frick. Maybe that’s why I’ve never really taken to mastering any of the skills I possess. Part of it is a fear of failure (something I’ll likely always struggle with), but I think, more than anything, I don’t want to do something unless I can do it all the way, be the best, and enjoy the process.

I’ve thought about going to culinary school, cosmetology school. night classes for languages (Spanish and Japanese, specifically), and I have actually gone to school for wedding/event planning. I’ve even thought about going back to school to get my Master’s in writing and editing. I’ve just never actually done it. I worry about having the time and energy (especially now), not to mention the money. Ballroom dancing is one of the priciest hobbies I’ve ever taken up, but I’ve never felt that it wasn’t worth it.

One of my biggest issues is that I’m easily distracted. I can be the Queen of Procrastination sometimes. Even as I’m writing this, I think, “I have to finish this tonight, otherwise I’ll completely forget about it and it’ll never get done.” I have a lot of “issues” when it comes to sticking with certain tasks. I need to work on that. I’ll ways have to work on that.

So, you see, even writing this is an interesting challenge in completion for me. Writing one post every day? Holy crap. Who’d have ever thought I’d even get out as many as I’ve done so far? Not me, that’s for sure.

At the end of the day, I just want to be proud of the work that I do, no matter what that is…cookies, cupcakes, dancing, writing. Whatever it is, I want to feel like I’ve produced that absolute best I’m capable of. I hate the phrase “giving it 110%” because it’s a mathematical impossibility and illogic makes me angry. I always want to feel like I’ve given everything I can…100% of my effort, 100% of the time.

Tally ho!

On what I want to be….

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There are a lot of things that I’ve been known to want to “be” in my nearly-35 years.

In grade 6, I wanted to be a pediatric endocrinologist. I literally have no idea what that is, but I was certain I wanted to be one. I think it’s a doctor for children. No clue. Probably a good sign that I should never have wanted to be that.

By grade 11, I was certain that I wanted to be a prosecuting attorney. I wanted to put away the bad guys! I loved learning about how the law works and it was probably around this time I started watching Law & Order. And if anything was going to push me into something law related, it was going to be that show. My best friend and I consistently “dressed the part” (or what we thought that was, anyway) nearly every day at school. If we weren’t in our cheerleading uniforms, we were wearing pant suits. 1997 was a weird fashion year for me. For most of us, honestly.

Then in grade 12, I had to write a novel for my AP English class and I discovered I wanted to be in the CIA. I big time wanted to be a spy. My same friend from grade 11 had the same idea as I did. We’d recently seen the first Mission: Impossible and, well, we were going to be spies. And it was going to be awesome! I’m not sure about her, but by that time, I was already in love with travel and language, so it seemed I was on the right track.

Then I went to college and everything sort of went haywire (as if it hadn’t seemed that way already). I wanted to be a wedding/event planner, a sociologist, a social worker (another Law & Order-fueled idea…what is my deal?!), something to do with hospitality, and then finally…a writer.

Eleven years, five colleges/universities, and five major changes later, I ended up with a degree in writing and editing.

Hilariously, I found myself back where I started. If only I’d have known about this when I started…I’d have saved myself a hell of a lot of time, effort, and – maybe most importantly – money (which is the portion of this tale that makes me the most angry at Congress. I digress).

So someday, I think I would like to be able to call myself a professional writer. It would be pretty awesome. “What do you do?” “Oh, I’m a writer.” And then for fun, I’d like to be able to add “…for Vanity Fair” or “…for Huffington Post” or “…for the President” but I’ll take what I can. And for now, that’s just me spewing my thoughts at a laptop, hoping someone will read it and maybe find it interesting.

“I coulda been a contendah!”

On embracing new challenges….

NaBloPoMo_November_0

It’s National Blog Posting Month. I’d never even heard of this until I was scrolling through my Facebook feed at 5:30 this morning. I seem to find the most random information that early in the morning. Which begs the question: What interesting information will I come across during midnight baby feedings?

At any rate, November is my last full month of not being a mommy so I want to take as much advantage of that as I can. I need to read more. I need to write more. I need to eat out more. All the things that will surely go on back burners, at least for a while, once this girl makes her appearance.

So today, I’m binge-watching Gilmore Girls (though there is one character that has gotten increasingly more annoying and his comedic value is lacking, especially when the smart, witty banter provides so much humor. He’s an unnecessary character, at best). I’m going reading Yes, Please by Amy Poehler (which will likely make me want to re-read Bossypants and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?). I’m currently drinking pumpkin spiced hot chocolate (this simultaneously makes me long for the day when I’ll be able to have full blown coffee again and also grateful for the quiet I’m currently enjoying). I’m making two soups (mostly because I can, but also because I need to stock my freezer in preparation for the new little munchkin and her surely demanding schedule).

But I think what might be the most important thing for me to remember during this month of writing is that I am a multi-faceted person. We all are. I am not “just” a wife or mother or writer or baker or singer or runner or reader or friend or any number of things. I am all of those things, all at the same time. Doing one of these things does not negate the fact that I am all these other things as well. I don’t stop being a writer while I’m running. I don’t stop being a wife when I’m baking. I don’t stop being a friend when I’m a mother.

Certainly there are facets of my life that will take up more time than others. Motherhood will easily take over for some time. As with learning any new skill, it will take time and practice. I’ll have to sacrifice some of my facets in order to learn how to do this one. The reality is that I can do all of the things I love doing…just not all at once.

So this month, I choose to focus on being a writer and a reader.

Happy NaBloPoMo,y’all!

On singing through life….

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Okay, Amy Courts tagged me on Facebook (a long time ago) to come up with a list of my “Top 10 Most Influential Albums” so here goes. It’s worth noting that these are probably more “favorites” than anything, but they’re the ones I go back to over and over and over again, so I think that counts as influential…at least to some degree.

Jennifer Knapp – Kansas. Good heavens, there is just not a way to describe fully how much this album means to me. Of the thousands of albums I own, it’s one of very few that I listen to every single track…repeatedly. Not a single song gets skipped. On top of that, this album is (probably) what brought my best friend and me together back in Minnesota. So I’m eternally grateful to Ms. Knapp for her brilliant music, my best friend, and for fulfilling a dream that said best friend had way back in 1999. The woman has changed lives, but I’ve actively watched her change the life of someone I actually know and that’s been amazing. Anyway, yeah. I love this album. It makes it onto my iPod several times a year.

The Beach Boys – Endless Summer. I must have listened to this record on repeat a billion times growing up. It was a staple soundtrack for my family while we decorated the Christmas tree. I learned a lot about listening for harmonies from the Beach Boys. Much of their music is why I love finding various harmonies in as many songs as I can. I’m not nearly as successful as they are, but I still do it. On top of that, it’s hard to feel bad about anything when I’m listening to these cats. It’s one of the happiest albums ever released. Ever.

DC Talk – Jesus Freak. I love these guys. Always have; always will. I bought Free At Last immediately when it came out and loved that album, too. But this one? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because it had a more powerful message to me. Maybe it’s because I was a little older when I bought it and thus more aware of lyrics. Whatever the case, there are at least six songs on this album that I love to listen to and that can (when the moment is right) bring me to tears. Or make me feel empowered in my faith and the way I exhibit that. And without this album, I probably wouldn’t be comfortable calling myself a “Jesus Freak”…something I’m very proud to define myself as.

Britney Spears – …Baby, One More Time. Yep. I love this album. In fact, I shamelessly, openly love this album. I think the reason I love it so much now (because it is kind of a terrible album) is it’s how I taught myself to not care what music I like or what people think about the music I like. I am undoubtedly the most uncloseted Britney fan you’ll ever meet. Unless you meet the crying “leave Britney alone” kid. Then he’s the winner of that title. Until such time, I’m your girl.

Ace of Base – The Sign. This was the first “secular” album I ever owned. I walked about 87 miles from my friend’s house to the store to buy it (she bought a Stone Temple Pilots album, I think). And then I proceeded to listen to this cassette on repeat until I broke it. In case you didn’t know, I’m the quintessential “top 40 pop” kind of music girl. There’s not really a great reason for me to love this album. I mostly just enjoy(ed) dancing to it.

Leigh Nash – Hymns and Sacred Songs. This album crossed my path during a rather tumultuous time in my life. It was also the same time I decided to take up running. At the time, whenever I’d work out, I’d listen to Top 40 music with heavy beats. A girl friend told me she loved snowboarding to softer, lighter music because it made her feel like she was floating on the snow. I decided to try running to softer music and this album was an obvious choice. I remember needing to stop to get a rock out of my shoe on a particularly long run (once I’d decided to sign up for my first half marathon) and the track “O Heart Bereaved and Lonely” started playing. I cried. I ran. I melted down. I completed my course. I had some conversations with God. This album basically rocked me.

The Beatles – Abbey Road. What is there not to love about The Beatles? I don’t know why I love this album so much, but I do. It contains some of my favorite tunes…about the time they were somewhere in between boy band and weirdo stoners (though, to be honest, I like all variations of The Beatles). It’s perfection, if you ask me. Another delightful group from whom I learned a lot about basic four part harmony. I can’t even really tell you how or why I ended up liking The Beatles. My parents never really got into them (though they do remember when they made their American television debut). I must have been in high school before I really began to appreciate their awesomeness.

The Little Mermaid soundtrack. I’m in love with this movie. Have been since the day it came out. My dad took me to see it and ever since then, I’ve been enthralled with the music. I have the piano tunes, the soundtrack, even the French soundtrack (which is amazing, in case you were wondering). The movie came out when I was nine years old and I think that’s probably when I really started stretching my pipes. I still love singing along to all the songs, but “Part Of Your World” is a special tune to me. That and “Fathoms Below” just make me happy!

Okay, so I realize this is only eight albums, but frankly, it’s a lot easier for me to come up with movies or books that have impacted me. I listen to music for pure enjoyment. Sometimes I really enjoy music that is absolute garbage (Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, general current pop nonsense). Sometimes I get all melancholy and listen to things like Young the Giant or Fleetwood Mac. Sometimes I need to dance it out so I jam to Lady Gaga and Britney and Christina.

The reality is…I love music. A LOT. But it just doesn’t affect me the way movies or books do. And I’m okay with that. Music is a huge part of my life and has been for as long as I can remember. Maybe it’s just that I listen to it so much and am so bloody schizophrenic with my tastes that it’s just too hard for me to keep up with what has impacted me. I can name a thousand albums or songs that have smacked me in the face with memories or feelings, but I’m not sure that qualifies (at least, to me) as an “impact.” Mostly because a lot of times, those feelings and memories are incredibly painful or just make me feel yucky.

Music, to me, is a lot like scents are for most people. I’ll hear a song and memories will come flooding back in ways that are totally unexpected.

Music in general impacts me a great deal. Probably more than any other thing there is. It’s why I can still watch movies or read books that are remnants of former lives, but I’d sooner destroy a CD or delete the album that relive the moments I associate with those songs.

Music creates within me all the feels.
Sometimes I love it.
Sometimes I hate it.
But it is my constant.

On embracing the peace and accepting the war….

Fair warning: This is a Jesus-related post.

The whole ISIS situation has been weighing on me recently. More heavily than I expected it would. A lot of it has to do with my belief that so much of the world’s problems could be solved (or, at the very least, lessened) if everyone took a little time out of their day to understand someone else’s life, culture, mores, etc.

But more than that, I’ve been really disappointed with the reaction I’ve seen from Christians/conservatives in the media toward those who are vastly different from them. I don’t believe that these viewpoints are mainstream, but they are the loudest and so they get the most attention. So I’m here today to offer my personal perspective. Take it or leave it.

First, I should probably set out some of what I believe to be true regarding Scripture.
1. I believe that it is the inspired word of God.
2. I believe that the New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old Testament.
3. I believe that Jesus is that fulfillment and I therefore look to His behaviors and teachings to guide my faith.
4. I believe that the best way to view the Old Testament is through the eyes of Jesus.

Okay, so now that that’s out of the way, here’s what I want to get at: Violent militant action regarding ISIS.

I don’t think it’s entirely necessary. Let me be clear: I think there’s a time and a place for a massive show of force, a big (and ultimately and sadly, a violent) reaction. But what I also think is that peaceful resolutions can be made. Here’s why.

Remember all those times in the Old Testament when the nation of Israel was overtaken by other countries? There’s one very specific time where the response was not with violence or force. It’s talked about in the book of Daniel. In the first chapter, we’re introduced to Daniel and his three buddies, the guys most of us would come to know as Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego (you know…the fiery furnace trio). They’re all young and have had everything ripped from them including, quite literally, their manhood. They have every reason to be pissed and want to take forceful action. Then they find out they’re about to be forced into the service of the king who’s caused all of this sh*t to happen to them, their families, their country. But they instead remain calm and level-headed…something that, frankly, is hard for most of us to accomplish under duress and these are teenage boys. So first and foremost, the takeaway here is: Take A Beat. Gather your thoughts and think through what the most appropriate action is. (Daniel 1:8 But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank.)

But what’s really impressive here is that Daniel was able to come up with a resolution that was appropriate for both sides and neither side had to compromise their position in order to win. I’m sure any of us could come up with countless times someone has come to us with a complaint, but no solution. That’s useless. And it’s a waste of time (which, for someone like me, is the most irritating part of hearing a complaint). (Daniel 1:11-14 Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” 14 So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days.)

Daniel didn’t complain, he didn’t resort to violence or insults, and he wasn’t condescending or rude. All he was trying to do was cooperate and compromise without compromising his values. What’s important here that compromise isn’t a bad thing. At least, not always. What Daniel offered was a “a settlement of differences by mutual concessions”; he wasn’t “exposing or making [his values or beliefs] vulnerable to danger, suspicion, scandal.” [As a brief aside, the various and seemingly contradictory meanings of the many words in the English language is part of why I love it so much.]

Okay, so here’s where things are going to get tricky.

The Old Testament God is a God of war, a God of wrath, a God who doesn’t take anyone’s B.S. There’s little room for error (actually, there’s no room for error). But the Old Testament has long-since been fulfilled through the life (and subsequent death and resurrection) of Christ. So while that doesn’t negate the Old Testament, it does change how I view it. I don’t believe that the God of the Old Testament ever wanted to resort to all the war and violence that Israel was either put through or put other nations through. I also don’t believe it was without justification. It’s pretty clear through the course of the Old Testament that God gives ample warning to both the Israelites and the nations He’s about the have them topple. No one ever just arbitrarily went into another country without a) provocation and/or b) warning.

But then Christ shows up on the scene and completely changes the modus operandi of not only Israel, but the world, at large. Shockingly, He suggests that we love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-44 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.), turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39  if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.), and, in general, love everyone…no matter what (John 13:34-35 – A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another).

Christ came and flipped everything on it’s head. Everything we knew to be true just…isn’t anymore. Our first response shouldn’t be fear or hatred. It doesn’t need to be.

So, yes, it’s frustrating for me to hear prominent people in the media claim to be followers of Christ while at the same time spewing such hatred toward another human.

The fact of the matter is two-fold: 1) ISIS is committing deplorable acts against humanity; and 2) members of ISIS are also created in the image of God. They are as entitled to membership in the Kingdom of Heaven as anyone else. But their decision to choose that or not choose that does not, in any way, diminish their value in the eyes of God.

There’s a big piece of me that believes the world, at large, is moving more toward a state of peaceful resolutions. Maybe that’s naive of me to think, but when I hear young people today speak about what the world looks like to them and what it can  look like, I’m both impressed and inspired. I think the youngest portion of my generation and the generation that will follow will largely take a stance like that of Daniel and the three amigos. Do I think it will work all the time? No. Do I think military action will need to be taken against such atrocities as those we’re seeing today? Yes.

I believe we live in a broken world, but not one that is beyond repair or redemption.
I believe peaceful resolutions are possible.
I believe that trying to understand before flying off the handle is the best approach.
I don’t believe “kill ’em or convert ’em” is a methodology Christ preaches or would condone.

But most importantly, I believe that God is a God of grace and redemption and that absolutely none of us are so beyond His reach that we should lose hope.

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**This post was inspired, in part, by a recent sermon by Steve Kooy of Bridgeway Community Church in California, MD. The entire series on the book of Daniel can be found here, but the referenced sermon is here

On lessons learned (so far)….

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The idea of raising a daughter instills a certain amount of fear in me. There’s so much to teach little girls about life and so many things that could damage them (including, but not limited to, me, unfortunately). In a perfect world, I could either protect her from any and all harm or that harm would just never exist in the first place. Sadly, that’s just not going to happen. I’ll be raising a daughter in a broken, hurtful, cruel, amazing, and wonderful world. But what I can do is offer her some of the things I’ve learned in my mere 30+ years on earth, things that I have found to be true and things I hope will ring true for her.

1. Don’t save your best or most expensive or favorite jewelry for special occasions. Wear it whenever you want. Pearls looks amazing with jeans and boots.

2. Be friends with lots of different people. But choose wisely those whom you call your BEST friends. They should be people that challenge, inspire, and motivate you to be the best version of you.

3. Go to college. Just do it.

4. Once a year, really commit to doing something you’ve never done. You never know what you might fall in love with.

5. Your soulmate may or may not be your spouse. That’s okay. You might also have more than one soulmate.

6. Never let anyone tell you you’re not capable of doing something. Prove them wrong.

7. Sometimes your head will lie to your heart and your heart will lie to your head. Don’t do anything until they agree. In the meantime, go for a run and eat a cupcake. That usually speeds up the process.

8. Church is like family. You won’t always like everyone and they won’t always like you. You won’t agree with everyone all the time. You might feel like throwing in the towel. Don’t give up on your church or your faith. Ask questions, read, pay attention, and eventually you’ll reach a place that feels comfortable even if you don’t have all the answers (you never will).

9. Don’t let anyone tell you what kind of music you should or shouldn’t like. But give all of it a chance. You never know what might strike your fancy.

10. Go to dinner and to the movies by yourself from time to time. It feels good to be confident enough to do it (even if you’re faking confidence for a little while).

11. Twirling will never get old. Living room dancing can solve a host of problems and be the best way to celebrate or let off steam. Never stop dancing.

12. Let your dad help you. He needs it and so do you.

13. Put down the camera/phone long enough to actually experience something.

14. If it doesn’t feel right, stop. This goes for romance, food, and fashion. If something doesn’t make you feel like a million bucks, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.

15. Do not ever drink cheap, crappy beer. Opt for craft whenever possible. If craft beer isn’t available, get a lemonade. Trust me.

16. Any time is a good time for champagne. Champagne is like the pearls of wine. It goes with everything and makes everything just a little more special.

17. Cheerleading is a sport. It’s one hell of a hard one, too. I’d like you to give it a go, but regardless of if you do or don’t, know that it’s no less challenging or competitive than basketball or football.

18. Speaking of football, the Denver Broncos are the only NFL team worth rooting for. People will try to tell you otherwise. Don’t listen.

19. Wear sunscreen like it’s your second job.

20. Steak should always be eaten at a maximum temperature of medium rare. Hamburgers are best at medium.

21. Glitter is about the worst and most difficult thing to clean up. Don’t let that stop you from wearing it or decorating with it.

22. Trampolines never go out of style. It feels fantastic any time you jump on one.

23. Get a tattoo if you want to. Get a hundred if you want to. Just have a reason for getting them. There will never be a good enough reason to justify Tweety Bird on your ass.

24. Never stop reading. Always look for something new to read and ask for recommendations from someone who is more well-read than you. That person will always exist and you will someday have the pleasure of being someone else’s go-to for suggestions.

25. Learn another language.

26. Travel. Experience other cultures. Fully immerse yourself in another country. You’ll learn a lot about yourself by doing it.

27. Six inch heels are too much fun not to wear. Wear them. Wear them often.

28. Don’t ever let a man get away with whistling at you or cat-calling you. Take them to task on it.

29. Camping is one of the most enjoyable things you will ever do.

30. Wear dresses while playing in dirt or fixing the car if you want. Clothes can be washed. You should feel fabulous no matter what you’re doing.

31. Learn to build something.

32. Sunday afternoon naps in the fall will never not feel amazing.

33. Be ballsy, but know your limits.

34. The question “What would my dad think?” will solve a lot of problems.

35. Get involved in politics and know what a candidate stands for. You never know who you might end up supporting, but you better know why.

36. Roller coasters will change your life. Ride as many as you can for as long as you can. Learn different techniques for getting the most thrill. And, especially, put your hands up!

37. Learn to embrace silence and solitude.

38. If you think it’s cheesy, it probably is. Don’t let that stop you from enjoying it. This especially goes for game nights and karaoke.

39. Be friends with (or better yet, marry) someone who makes you laugh so hard you can’t breathe.

40. Almond extract is a baking necessity.

41. Learn to drive a stick shift and be good at it.

42. Remember your friends’ birthdays and anniversaries. Send real cards in the real mail.

On finding (what to do with) the time….

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I was recently told that writing is a matter of one sentence at a time. So this is my attempt at that.

I wake up every morning, motivated to do something remarkable with my day. And then…nothing. I hang out with my dogs and read the news. I text with my two girl friends who are due to have babies the same time as me. Sometimes I bake. But mostly? I just have nothing to show for my day. Lately, that’s been a little upsetting to me.

The sermon at my church on Sunday frustrated me. In a good way. Talking about how so many of us are “too busy” for the things that are really important. I definitely used to be that person. My days were filled with activities and obligations and appointments. I always had somewhere to be and something to do. There was very little down time. I hardly even took time out for just me.

Now? I honestly think I have too much free time. I miss working, but with a baby due in just four months (holy crap!), there’s not really any logic in trying to find a job right now. I think what I really miss, beyond the relationships one develops in an office setting, is the feeling of being contributory. I miss being a part of a team. Recently, I joined the Navy Ball Planning Committee for our base’s birthday bash. That’s been a lot of fun for me…despite being the only civilian on the team. But it’s something I’m good at. I love planning and executing events. And, frankly, I happen to be very good at it. The team lead gave me an official title…”Flow Coordinator.” My favorite part of any event is the day-of execution. It’s where I excel. A lot of that has to do with working really well under pressure, with deadlines, and with stressful situations (ask me about the time I coordinated a wedding where the groom was deathly ill and in the hospital until well over an hour after the ceremony was to start). Anyway, I’m really excited to be  a part of this team. It’s giving me good exposure to how things work in the military (I’m learning terms and phrases I never thought I’d know or care about) and this event alone will be one hell of an addition to my resume.

But what happens after the party? Where will I turn my focus after it’s all over?

Yeah, yeah, yeah…I’ll have a baby by the end of the year and I know that will take an extraordinary amount of my time. Still though…I want to keep contributing. And I want to make money doing it. So the goal would be to make money from writing. I’m not sure how that will happen. I’ve never been very good at hunting down things to write about or organizations/publications to write for. I probably need to hone my searching skills…dig out my Carmen San Diego costume and start sleuthing for opportunities.

Until then, I (try to) keep writing…one sentence at a time.