…on Love and the M word

I was never that person who was convinced that someday they would get married.  I did not have my wedding planned out before I met Stephen.  I always thought, “well, maybe I’ll get married…OR I’ll travel and volunteer in orphanages all over the world.”  When I considered my vocation, it was steeped deeply in service and the importance of education for those who need it most.  My vocation has indeed changed.  My vocation is to be married and be a wife to the most bomb diggity guy I have ever met.  I have realized that I am called to be married and foster an awesome love that is a witness to the love that God has for all of us.  

But wait…what about all my other dreams?  The sweet part about it all is that although my perspective is shifting, my passions and calling are still leading me in the direction I always wanted to go.  The foolish and naive younger me always told myself and others that I would never change.  “Don’t let me stop going out,” “If I say I don’t want to go out to the bar…make me!”  “Don’t worry, being in a relationship wont change me, I promise!” I have changed.  I recently taught my students a lesson about the Dark Ages in Ancient Greece and was trying to think of a meaningful way to describe how the Dorians influenced Greek culture so greatly by being illiterate.  I explained that since the Dorians couldn’t read or write, the had other focuses in their lives.  Its not that they didn’t like reading and writing, per say.  It is that they had other things that they were thinking about and moving toward.  That’s kind of how I look at the way that I have changed.  I am literally making a new family.  That’s a lot of work!

So, its true, really true that I am getting married.  In a month to be exact!  The marriage preparation journey has been one of the most meaningful paths of my life thus far.  I have learned some real big lessons.

1.  Marriage is beautiful and sacred.  It should not be entered lightly or without deep regard for its implications.

2.  Being with someone for the rest of your life is a LONG time.  Make sure its someone you can be 100% self expressed with.  Someone who follows their own calling and encourages you to follow your own.

Over the past three months; planning a wedding and doing my student teaching, I have been very present to the fact that I am going in a distinct direction.  In fact, I have been going in this direction for a long time now.  The difference between now and two years ago is that I have a partner in crime.  In thirty-one short days my NAME will change.  I have always had one name and now I’m getting a new one.  My name will literally correspond with a Dr. Seuss book.  Worth it.

 

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Underemployment: Reflection of a College Graduate in Small Town America

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Setting

Location: Small town Vermont

Time:  5:00am

What is fair?

These words came to mind, possibly naturally, when my alarm went off at 3:30am.  My question remains the same—who deserves to wake up at 3:30am to work a 10 hour shift making $8.75 an hour?  Now hopefully this next sentence will not offend, its not meant to.

Why do I feel above this work?

My talents are being wasted?

My identity:  a facilitator of groups, a speaker of multiple languages, a graduate of university.

Are gas station attendants without talent?  One of my co-workers has two jobs and goes to community college in attempts to someday own his own business.  Each of my co-workers have something in common; the majority of their family are in the service industry; housekeepers, waitresses, work in retail.

So, I feel above this work because I went to college.  I went to college because it was expected of me.  Looking at a $38,000 bill, per year, of college didn’t scare me because of my upbringing and because of the assumption that I would make more than that sum each year after I graduated.

Total income for two years of work post-college:  $37,000

Living in a small town, away from my support network has given me a distinct view of a dichotomy that I had only read about previously.  Undergraduate degrees are not worth as much as they were before and minimum wage is barely a liveable wage.  After four months of what I consider un and underemployment, I have made the choice to move to an urban area where I have the support of family and an increased amount of employment that requires a undergraduate degree.

What is a “real” job and how does that definition change depending on your upbringing.  For me, a job at a gas station is not a real job.  But, there are people who do work in those positions for periods of time longer than a month.  Why do I have the luxury of finding work that is purposeful and meaningful to me?  These are all questions I asked myself as I counted down the days until my time at the gas station was over and I moved to the “big city” to find a “real job”.  I don’t know how to feel about this, but it makes me uneasy and will be something that I think about for a long, long time.

Is the assumption that one can pursue what they are passionate about a mindset or is it based on opportunity that is found by certain individuals within the structure of our economy?  If my co-worker at the gas station all of a sudden decided that he wanted to go to college full time and pursue a degree in computer science, would he be able to without a significant support network?

This is a conversation.  I would love to hear what you think about this topic and your experiences within our current economy.  We all have a role within the market; we make a different and are inherently affected by what is doing on, day by day.


BeAuTy

The other day I saw this video for the first time and it pretty much blew my mind.  I mean, we all know how fake magazine pictures are and how airbrushed chicks are in the movies but this short video really brought those ideas to life.  Comparing yourself to so-called perfection is a pretty dangerous game.  Demi-gods and goddesses show up everyday in our lives on the covers of magazines, gigantic billboards, and on our favorite sitcom.  Are there really people out there who never get a blemish?  Or have completely styled and coiffed hair, all the time?  Welcome to the real world folks and it’s, I would argue, prettier.  What if we looked up to authentic, real looking women who didn’t look like they had plastic faces.  And dudes, what if you worshipped chicks that had normal chest sizes and only wore heels, say, once a month.  I think that we do and it is more of an underlying issue that I am approaching here.  We all have those people in our lives that we think are beautiful or good looking because of various reasons.  Our friend who is ridiculously funny; Our significant other who knows exactly what to say to make us feel better; our Mother or Father (or both!) who we look up to because they are strong and have faced tough situations.  When we really think about beauty in our lives, I don’t think commercial beauty is the first thing that comes to mind.  We may appreciate perfection and enjoy looking at it in our monthly Cosmo, but we know true beauty when we see it.


Cause I need freedom now And I need to know how To live my life as it’s meant to be

Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and thought, “who is this person?”  After all the experiences, friends, choices, and happenstance, who is it that I am?  Sometimes winter is thought of as a dreary, sad time.  Lets rearrange that way of thinking. Winter being in between fall and summer is not only a chance for purification but also rededication.  Snow falls delicately, coating the ground with a pure white covering.  As snow melts, it makes a bit of a sludgy mess, flowing down sidewalks and streets.  Making its way through streams, rivers, oceans, and the inevitable life cycle, that water is transformed.  Finding strength in these winter months can be difficult.  Remembering this cycle is helpful though because it is a distinct reminder that each day holds the possibility of new ideas, life paths, and inspiration.  With perseverance we can see past the sludge to find this beautiful moments, people, and ideas, which enable transformation.  New hopes and dreams lead us forward in these cold months have the possibility of covering or replace the running river of melted snow.  Something that didn’t work out before can be forgotten or re-worked.  Starting a new story with these winter months, or maybe a new chapter within an already exciting and worthwhile story that is already in motion makes me feel alive and inspired.  We are who we want to be. 


New Friends, Old Friends, and all Those People in Between

When filling out an application the other day, Steve said sort of seriously, “but wait, really, I kind of am like a migrant worker,” when attempting to respond to that question in all honesty.  Being somewhat nomadic can be frustrating because you do not lay down roots for too long in any one place but it is also a grand opportunity to meet incredible amounts of, well, incredible people.  You live with people for six months or maybe you work with them for a year and if you are being really realistic, there is a chance that you could never see them again.  At a presentation the other day an idea of Aristotle’s really caught my attention; his idea was that the things of most worth are those that seem to be most meaningless.  Immediately I thought of all of those things we do together that are for no real purpose in the grand scheme of things.  Rock climbing, cruising down a river, and good old fashioned front porch sittin’ don’t achieve anything tangible, they don’t create anything you can touch or make money off of.  But could be considered by some or even most to be of the highest importance.  Why?  Because they are what bring us together and solidify the bond of friendship.  Its what makes you stay in touch with old friends and infinitely excited to meet new people; inviting them into your adventure.  I don’t think there is a formula for staying in touch or for meeting new people.  It all lies in being yourself and being generous with yourself whether it be in calling up an old friend to catch up and reminisce or striking up conversation with a new friend.

Ya, I think I’ll take yall with me :)

Expectations

When I talk about transition time I think most people have a real good idea of what that FEELS like.  People who are on the younger side, without families of their own oftentimes see a great deal of movement in their lives.  Whether it be from country to country, job to job, or even from their parent’s house to real life apartment; it seems like the majority of my friends go through transitions super frequently.  There is that feeling of, what is next?  Or, how am I going to occur in this new atmosphere, this setting.  It causes, inevitably, a bit of anxiety to even the most grounded of us.  As we navigate the waters of what’s next, its not only our expectations but the expectations of others that we consider, that we manage.  As we “grow up” we become intertwined in the lives of other people.  I have always believed that your very presence affects the people around you.  Your spirit, past experiences, and current state of being all impact others.  Moving out of my parent’s house for the, oh third time was interestingly easier than the previous two times.  I was ready.  I have learned over this past week that it is all about expectations that define how you occur in new situations.  Having moved to so many new situations I had developed an appreciation for not creating expectations.  When I moved to Haiti, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I was ready for the adventure and learned along the way.  On my way up to Vermont this weekend I did not prepare myself in the same way that I have prepared myself for previous adventures.  It was Christmas weekend and I inevitably had an idea of what I thought that holiday looked like.  As the weekend played out and I was in my new surroundings I became increasingly disappointed.  Disappointed in Christmas?  How much more depressing does it get?  I realized that I came into this new situation without opening myself up to the possibilities of a new place and forgot one of the most important elements of transition time:  letting go of expectations.  My lesson this week was, let it go and let the adventure take you because if you put definitions on things and try to mold those around you to your expectations you are bound to be disappointed.


Nature Moment!

Everyday is an adventure if you let it be, I suppose.  As I walked down the wooded path to Whitings Neck cave with seventeen eleven year olds I became really present to their wonder at the world around them.  With an experience ahead of them that was literally out of their normal sphere of the world, the had nervous energy that was full of anticipation.  Oftentimes it takes moments like that to remind me exactly how exciting, precious, and beautiful life is.  In the middle of my talk about safety, a particularly excitable kid started pointing and talking about a interesting looking red frog on the log next to me.  Of course, he didn’t mean to be rude; and in that moment I had the choice of whether to disregard what he was talking about and continue on with my plans or let that moment be, well, a nature moment.  Keeping myself flexible is important, not only as an instructor, but just as a person.  Being able to deviate from my plans to embrace those of another is a gift and a fundamental within a community.  Looking beyond self in order to see how someone else’s experience could be better and more meaningful.  So, we had that nature moment.  As cool as the cave was, the one thing that those kids talked about throughout the day was that frog and how dang cool it was.  I’m glad I stopped for that nature moment and hope that I remember to stop more because its important for them, and possibly more important for me.  


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