Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mawwage is what bwings us togeva today...

Last weekend my mom, Kristy and I threw a bridal shower for Joni.  Remember my post about my mom, when I talked about how good she is at throwing parties?  Here's some proof, in pictures taken by Becca.

See how gorgeous all the decorations are, and how detailed everything is?  I had nothing to do with that.  That's all my mom, and Kristy.  They did all the important parts, like the food and the pretty stuff.  Mike helped with the food, too...thanks, Mike!  My job was the games.  No, I'm not so great at details or decorations, but games I can handle.  Also making inappropriate jokes and trying to make Joni uncomfortable...I can handle that like a champ.

That's everyone playing the games.  (The stunner in the red striped shirt is my lovely grandmother.)  Below is a picture of Becca with Joni.  (Becca is carrying her third child...either my third niece or my fourth nephew...Phoebe or Pheobo...who is planning to join the family right around New Years.) 

And Kristy and I, the co-matrons of honor, sort of matched that day.  You can't see it in the picture, but we're both wearing white skirts, too.  And no, we didn't plan it.  We are just that cute.

It's nice to have these little scheduled times when I know I'll see my family.  And I can't wait for the wedding in December!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Change of Heart

I've been meaning to write about this subject for awhile, and I can't remember if I did or not.  If I've already said all of this, forgive me.  Sometimes my blog ideas make it to the actual blog, while others stay on my "drafts" list, and I really just need to be more organized and remember what I have actually written.

So the change of heart.  I'm a big advocate for the change of heart because I'm not a person who likes to live in absolutes.  In fact, you'll often hear me say one thing, and then a year later I'll say a totally different thing.  Let me give you some examples:

When I was twenty-one, I was convinced I would never return school to finish my college education.  At that time, a degree was not important to me, and I had no desire to pursue it.  Since that time, I have attended four different colleges, and if it weren't for our move, I would be continuing my education at Sonoma State.  Turns out I was wrong about never returning to school.

Around that time I was also convinced I would never marry.  I loved the idea of being single and available to really invest in the lives of others without the constraint that marriage brings.  I didn't think there was anything wrong with getting married; it was more that I loved Paul's idea of being single found in 1 Corinthians 7.  It was at the height of my "I am perfectly happy never being married and I don't think I'll ever get married" phase that I met Sam.  And the rest is history.  Yes, I was wrong again.

It has long been known that I've had a major aversion to working in the educational system.  Even in elementary school, I despised the way education was presented in California, and swore I would never be a teacher as a way to avoid the absurdities I believed existed.  After working with children with special needs, I found out how awesome it is to hang out with these kids, and I'm actually considering getting my Special Ed credential when I finish my BA in order to teach.  It's possible I was wrong yet again.

So is this post all about how I'm always wrong?  Well, maybe.  But it's more about the way I believe God changes our hearts.  If we let Him, He gently guides our thoughts, ambitions, and desires to line up with what He has in store for us.  Sometimes it's completely opposite of what we've always thought we wanted, and sometimes it fits in perfectly with how we've always felt.  But it seems silly to let stubbornness or pride get in the way of something that might turn out to be a huge blessing.  Take our move to Oregon.  I loved Sonoma State, I loved my job, I loved our church, and I loved our friends.  Petaluma finally felt like home to me.  Then, in early June, I inexplicably felt a certain peace when I considered the idea of moving.  It wasn't until a few days later that Sam even brought up the idea with me, and I realized God had been moving both of our hearts separately, so that by the time we talked about it we were on the same page.  And surprisingly, I am happy here and think the move was just what we needed.

I guess I'm just writing this to encourage anyone to allow themselves to change.  Just because you're currently known by others as being one way doesn't mean you have to stay that way.  Just because you've always been this way doesn't have to mean it must always be true, if you don't feel it should be.  Give yourself the opportunity to change your mind, and try not to worry about what others will think.  After all, it's your life and it's your responsibility to do with it what God wants you to do.

Similarly, I think we need to allow others to change, rather than boxing them in to whatever mold we think they fit into.  Time passes and people mature, and rather than pointing out how different they are, encourage them in whatever direction God might be leading.

So again...sorry if I've said all this before.  I just think it's a lesson I've learned, and I like to share anything that I feel has been helpful to me, in case others are in the same boat I've been in.  And if this doesn't apply to you at all...write me and tell me what you'd rather I write about. :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Return to the Bucks

I have been back at Starbucks for about a week and a half now.

Today on facebook, there was a little blurb informing me that on August 17th, 2009, exactly two years ago, my facebook status said something about going back to work at Starbucks.  Upon realizing this, I wailed something to Sam about my life just being on repeat, that I'm not actually advancing and that I'm stuck doing the same thing over and over.  (It's really easy for me to throw myself a pity party.  I throw one heck of a party, people.)  But God gave me this husband that doesn't come when I invite him to my pity parties.  He always mumbles some nonsense in opposition to my feeling sorry for myself.  Silly husband.  Needless to say, my party didn't last long.

Then I went to work.  I'm still in training right now since it's been a year and a half since I've worn the green apron, and yet it's all coming back to me very quickly.  Without thought my muscles remember how to create frothy foam, swirl espresso shots into white mocha, and quickly multitask to create drinks while still chatting with customers.  While I worked today, I realized that I'm really good at making lattes.  Really good.  I couldn't decide if that made me happy or depressed.  Do I really want to be really good at making lattes?  Aren't there a lot of other things in life that I would rather be really good at?  Writing books, being a wife, someday a mother?  Yes, I'd rather be a rock star at those things than at steaming milk.

But right now I'm at Starbucks.  I'm twenty-six, still without a college degree, and I'm at Starbucks.  I don't make a lot of money.  My work doesn't have a lot of prestige.  The level of intelligence required for this job is not high, and it's humbling to know that my brains aren't being stretched or challenged at work, and that this job certainly doesn't highlight all that I feel I'm capable of.  I want to scream out, I'm better than this!  (I realize I'm probably the only person who has ever had a thought as prideful as that, but there it is, the reality of how arrogant I can be.  Sorry to burst your bubble - I know you were all probably convinced that I am the model of humility.)

So this is where I am.  How do I accept that?  My pride wants to make lots of excuses, to tell people that I'm still pursuing my degree and that what I want to do someday is so much cooler than what I do right now.  But yes, I'm a barista, a job which only requires you to be sixteen and not a complete idiot.  As much as I'd like to just be depressed about that (which sounds like a lot of fun), I figure I should probably try to make the best of it.  How do I do that?  This is what I came up with:

Well first of all...I am good at my job.  I can be thankful for that.  Secondly, the people I work with are very friendly, and it is in fact the friendliest store I've ever worked at.  I am very thankful for that, seeing as how I don't have many Salem friends yet.  Third, I have a job.  I am thankful for that.  And finally, most importantly, I can interact with people all day and possibly be a blessing in their day (if I choose to by being kind), and I'm thankful for that opportunity.

I had a good day today, and I wanted to fight it.  I don't want to like working at Starbucks, but I do.  I don't want to work here forever, but I'm thankful that for the time being, I really like what I'm doing.  Not everyone can say that they enjoy going to work and I can.  I know there will be plenty of times I won't like it, and I know after a time I'll probably get really sick of it.  But for now, I want to make the most of it, to make friends, to do my best, and to take the opportunity to keep reading and writing as much as I can (since my mind isn't tired after work - just my body).

I really have nothing to complain about.  Just a lot to be thankful for.

(I wrote myself this post so that I can decline the invitation the next time I want to feel sorry for myself.  Hold me to it, people!)

Friday, August 12, 2011

An Observation

I know there's a whole debate about girls and boys, nature versus nurture, and what really causes masculine and feminine characteristics.  I heard there's even a couple in Canada raising their child to be genderless to avoid the nurture thing.  (Never mind the fact that they're also subjecting their child to public scrutiny and probably screwing the kid up by causing such a stir, but hey, what do I know, I'm not a parent.)  Anyway, I have a male cat and a female cat.  Now I'll admit, I do say gender-specific things to them.  I often tell Willow she's a "tiny little princess," and that she's pretty, and I tell Morty he's "big monster boy" and that he is a handsome cat.  But according to Sam, they don't really understand what I'm saying, so he calls them idiot and stupid in the same cute voice I use, insisting they don't know the difference.  (He doesn't really think they're stupid, don't worry, and also I'm not sure I believe him that they don't understand.)


Now from these pictures, can you tell me which is the boy cat and which is the girl cat?  (Forgive the picture quality, these were taken on my phone.)

 Kitty #1

Kitty #2

Kitty #1 is Morty - the boy.  And he likes to roll on his back and expose his belly and let it all hang out.  Like a boy.  And then Willow, Kitty #2, likes to keep her legs together and look all dainty, like a lady.  Does anyone else see it?  This is obviously nature working here, people.

Hope you have all enjoyed my ridiculous observations of my cats.  Anyone else think I need a second job?  I've got too much time on my hands.

Albert Schweitzer said, "There are two means of refuge from the misery of life - music and cats."  So true, Albert.  So true.  Dan Greenburg said, "Cats are dangerous companions for writers because cat watching is a near-perfect method of writing avoidance."  Also, apparently, very true.

He also said, "There is, incidentally, no way of talking about cats that enables one to come off as a sane person." 



Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Lesson in Hair

It was one of my mom's magazines, one that gives you tips on how to clean your house faster, recipes for easy meals, and tips on how to do your makeup.  I think I was around eleven years old when I found the article on how to do your hair.  The model's hair was long, silky and straight, with side-swept bangs and not a sign of frizz.  I frantically read to find out how I could achieve the same look, hoping that there might be some way I could tame my frizzy mop head, and I was delighted to discover I only needed to buy a few products.

I had recently had a birthday, so I went to my dad and asked him to drive me to the store so I could buy some straightening serum, a round brush, and a special conditioning cream with my birthday money.  He hesitated, making sure I really wanted to spend that money on hair products.  But I was convinced that was what I needed.  I'm sure my ten year-old mind was an advertiser's dream in that I truly believed every claim made, and that if the bottle said it would make my hair straight, then it would indeed make my hair straight.  I was so sure that if I just used these products and followed the directions on how to properly blow dry my hair, I would look exactly like the model in the picture.  I'd have straight hair.

You know how we all have those little things we believe will be the answer to all our problems?  "If I had this job," "If my salary was this much," "If I wore a size 2," etc.  Well, my fix-all "if" was "If I had straight hair."  If I had straight hair, I'd probably get straight As, have lots of friends, get the lead in the school play, and generally my life would be perfect.  All my problems were probably the result of my oddly wavy, sometimes curly, and always frizzy hair.

I probably don't have to tell you how it turned out, but I will.  I painstakingly blew that hair dry (in July in Porterville, in 100+ degree weather) and I watched tearfully as my hair expanded, not in length but in width.  I looked nothing like the model.  This was before the days of straighteners, so I was relying solely on that blow dryer and a big-barrel curling iron to do the trick.  It looked like I had a giant cotton ball on my head, and it was not pretty.

I'm thankful I have a patient dad who sometimes allowed his stubborn daughter to learn for herself.  As I cried over the fact that my hair wasn't straight and that I'd spent all my birthday money on hair products that did not do what they promised, he gently reminded me that my hair was different, and that thanks to him and my mom (who both have curly hair), it would be much more difficult to get the look I desired.  I believed him, but still thought there must be some way I could have straight hair.  And thus began my fifteen-year obsession with straightening my hair.

This isn't a story about how vain I was when I was a child, and how I let my silly hair ruin many of my days.  It's a story of finally coming to peace with my hair, and being able to appreciate it.  It has been a long time coming, but I can finally officially say I am thankful for my hair.  We've become friends, and it has forgiven me for all the chemicals, straightening irons, and blow drying I used to destroy it back when I tried to make it something it was not.  Much of this new found affection is due to a lovely book I was introduced to - Curly girl: The Handbook.  It's essential for all who have curly hair because it instructs you on how to actually style your hair and take care of it - it's so different from the way one would care for straight hair.  I've made a vow that I will never subject my curls to the damaging methods of straightening ever again, and that I will be grateful for every frizzy kink I find.  I have finally fully accepted and embraced my curls.

But it's more than that.  I don't know if it's the out-of-state move or turning twenty-six or what, but lately I've been thinking a lot about figuring out how to be really comfortable with who I am, and this curly hair thing is just a more tangible expression of it.  I am tired of playing the game of being whoever people expect me to be, or the version of myself I think people will like best.  I have no desire to pretend to be something I'm not.  I'm interested in figuring out my gifts and my own special talents and who I am really meant to be.  And part of that means I want to change things - my stubbornness, my tendency to procrastinate, giving in to fear.  But I also want to accept things and to be unafraid to express my true self.  That means sometimes my hair will look wild and unruly and I won't look chic and sophisticated.  That's fine. It's a lot easier and it sounds more fun to me than pretending and spending hours drying and straighenting.

And seriously, if you have curly hair, buy that book. :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Happy year, cute face.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.  How do you measure a year...

of marriage?

In times you moved?  (Four.)  In starting new jobs?  (Six.)  In ridiculous moments of bickering?  (Too many.)  In how many kitties you adopted?  (Two.)  In the pain of losing a sister and friend far too soon?  (Deeper than can be expressed.) 

Or in how much deeper your love has grown, and how on some days, you discover you have even more of a crush on him than when you first started dating?

I want to measure in the good things.  I can't believe it's been a year since I've been Sam's wife, and how much I've learned about him, myself, and agape love.  Things may not always be easy (as evidenced by our past year), and both of us continue to evolve as human beings.  We may not always share the same interests, he may always be annoyed by my thinking the kitties are being mistreated, and I may stop laughing at the jokes he repeats.  But regardless of our circumstances, we are committed to love.  As our wedding programs stated, "It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love."  Dear husband, though it's only been a year, I again promise to keep loving you, through the ebbs and flows of life.  When life is hard and feelings fade, commitment remains.

I know lots of people have difficult circumstances in life during their first year of marriage, and it would be naive to think that Sam and I are alone in all that we dealt with.  People get laid off, stressful life situations happen, family tragedies occur.  But I want to say cheers to the couples who get a heavy dose of real life in their first year, the couples who wake up from their fairy tales early.  The way I see it, things can only get easier from here.  We've made it through this, without the advantage of time and knowledge that comes with being married for years and years, so I'm confident we'll be able to handle whatever else life throws our way.  (Though life, it would be nice if you threw us some easier times for a bit, thanks.)  :)

 And, because I love pictures and I particularly loved my wedding pictures (thank you Hollie Chandler!), I will end this post with some of my favorite shots of this true love of mine and me, taken one year ago today.  There are a lot...sorry.  But who doesn't love good wedding pictures?

 My ring was Sam's great-grandmother's.  And I love it.

 Um...our favorite pictures look like the above photo...

Isn't he handsome?!

Hello, Petaluma.

Either we weren't ready or Hollie said something wildly offensive...most likely the latter.

What a cute face!!!  That's where his nickname comes from, obviously.

And of course we love our awesome wedding party that supported us through it all.

We're married.  And I am blessed.  Love you, cute face.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Honest thoughts

Grief hits you at weird times.  It hits you when you expect it to - when you smell her old clothes and you still smell her.  Or when you walk past a picture, cheerful eyes smiling back at you.  Or when you spend time with her friends and they are wonderful and it totally makes sense why they were her friends because they have that same joy and sweetness.

Grief surprises you, too.  When you see the little girl in the daycare at the gym, hair stolen by chemo.  When you have a conversation with your mother-in-law and she makes an expression and you catch a glimpse of Sara in her face and voice.  When your mind suddenly jumps to a memory, and it feels so close and so real and you can actually hear her laughing.  And then you remember she's gone.

Grief is that blister on your foot, that little stab of pain that still reminds you it's there and it's real, and even though it's healing, it's not going away anytime soon.  Because you have to keep walking.  You can't sit down and stop, and little things will keep reminding you and keep the wound open.

This isn't what I intended to write about today.  But I write what I must write.

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven...a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance."  Ecc. 3:1 & 4 

Sometimes I need to remember it's okay to mourn and weep.  Because we all go through this at some point or another.  And just because we weep doesn't mean we don't still have joy or hope.

These are just my scattered thoughts today, as my cat sits on my lap and a candle burns oatmeal raisin cookie scent into the air and Sam's flowers peek at me outside the window.
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