Friday, July 25, 2014

Youer than You

My identity sure is confusing. If I had to fill out an about me section on a dating website I'm sure I would come up with zero matches because trying to categorize me is like categorizing your average Multiple-Personality. Even looking in at my own life makes me laugh. Who likes listening to George Strait and Alan Jackson while cooking vegan desserts made out of beans and agave nectar? This girl. Who spends their days working as a paralegal for a successful and high-volume attorney in her Basics sweatshirt and 5-year old jeans? Me. You won't catch me playing Frisbee or wearing grunge-chic clothing like your standard animal-loving hippie-hipster here in Chicago. You will catch me chucking a football as hard as I can in a still-decent spiral I can only attribute to having two big brothers, and anticipating only one sports season: football. Today is the opening day of training camp for the Green Bay Packers, in case you didn't know.

True to my little vegetarian soul, I do love animals. But I think if you raise them, you get to eat them, if you really want to. I'm not talking about your average house pet, hopefully you didn't think I was...

Yes, I really do like country music. I don't get sick of it. It makes me happy. So does hip hop, and the Top 40 for that matter.  I have no class when it comes to music. For a few years in high school and college I tried to be cool about music, but I gave up, and gave in to what feels good. I suggest you do the same.

I have lived in Chicago for six years now and have now idea how I've made it that long. I'm an ever-increasing home body who doesn't like to go out to eat and doesn't give a hoot about the up-and-coming restaurants and coffee houses and vintage shops and cocktail lounges. My favorite parts about the city, and what have kept me here so long, are the people, the lake, and, the people. Oh, and the small-town feel neighborhood I've moved to, and which I never leave if I can help it.

If I could walk everywhere I ever needed to go, I'd be happy. Not really interested in traveling much and I don't have the case of Wanderlust that many of my peers do. I travel to see my family and friends. Usually on a big blue bus with which I have a love-hate relationship.

Like most people I know and love, we have a strong addiction to coffee. But for me, the brand or way it's made matters little. If it tastes OK black, then I'll drink it. Dunkin' Donuts tastes better to me than Starbucks. And though I will admit that coffee from a local coffee shop is yummy, I rarely spend the extra money, and I only drink black coffee, so that fancy latte art is lost on me.

Julia Roberts is my style icon. She always seems comfy and is usually laughing. I like that. Sometimes I cake on make-up, sometimes I go a week without wearing any. I just ordered a one-year subscription to Glamour magazine today because it was $7.50 - I love the feel of a magazine in my hand and looking through the pictures, always starting from the back to front. Staying up-to-date with celebrity gossip is an absolute guilty pleasure of mine.

If I could own any kind of vehicle, it would be a little pick-up truck. Yes, even if I somehow found myself still living in a city.

Maybe I'm not so weird. What do you think?  Seems like so many people fit into their categories while I at best only kind of fit in 17 different kinds of categories of people.  I never went to high school so I don't know what table I would have sat at - let's blame this all on being home schooled - I was never forced to pick a popularity group so I didn't. I just am. I do think fitting in is overrated. Guess I'll keep doing my thing, and you keep doing yours, even if that means you fit into one "category" perfectly - because who made up these categories anyway? Like what you like, love what you love, and let others do the same. I leave you with Dr. Seuss, our fellow and beloved Odd Ball.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Chocolate isn't a feeling. Wine might be.

I don't know if I'll be any good as a counselor. It seems that most counselors have the desire to change people. Make them better. Help them be better. A good listener can certainly help you sort yourself out. That kind of counseling works. And mediation, we sometimes can't work things out between the two of us, and we need a third person. Unbiased. If there is such  a thing (at least, someone who chooses to not connect personally or develop a crush on one of the clients- that's effective enough). When we need someone to give us some direction, there is always a counselor happy to give you their opinion, guidance and find out your strengths, purposes, and perhaps, even understand your feelings!

If you don't want to understand your feelings, I would suggest you do not go to therapy. I would  suggest you continue to numb your pain with your vice of choice. I was given a big sheet of paper with feelings on it once. "Chocolate" was not a feeling, so I didn't put much stock in it.

Anyway. I'm not so sure I really want to help people find out what job would be just so great for them, or for them to connect with their innermost feelings, or for them to "live their best life now." Seems like you'll either figure it out or you won't. Seems like some people have the right instruction manual to life and some people don't. Who handed it to them? Parents? God? Nature? Nurture? Teacher? Friend? I have not a clue.

Some people are broken, and they are strong. Some people are broken, and they are weak. Some people have very decent reasons for being so messed up and some don't really have a reason at all.  Some kids turn out OK and some do not. Decent people wish other people that aren't decent just would be. Come on, get your act together, it's not always easy, but you can do it. Truth is, some can't.

This past weekend I was dog sitting. The sweetest black lab/greyhound mix. His name is Thor and he is five years old. Funny thing about Thor is that his parents gave him his namesake as a pup, long before they knew this pup would grow up to be a dog downright terrified of thunderstorms.  Bad storms have rocked Wisconsin and Illinois the past couple of weeks, and this weekend was no exception. The irony is obvious, Thor, the god of thunder, is not the most appropriate name for this doe-eyed, gentle dog. Saturday night at 4:30 in the morning I woke up to Thor whining and whimpering to the sounds of the wind and rain beating through Chicago, and I wrapped up Thor in his Thundershirt, petted him slowly, and tried to soothe his doggie soul. Finally he lay next to me curled up, resigned to his fear, not overcoming it. He never will. But I could help him feel a little bit more OK, which is all I could do, even though I wish I could make him not scared. Thor will never not be afraid of storms. He will not live up to his name.

Sitting with people, and dogs, in their pain and fear and weakness, is sometimes all you can do. And what I have found out is that there are some that will never not be afraid of storms. But we can help them get through life all the same.

My heart is naturally in tune with those in pain, those that are suffering, whether they heaped it upon themselves or not. Maybe that will make me a good counselor. If not, I plan on going into the business of comforting nervous dogs. I hear it pays well.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


This moment, with these girls. It was perfection. (Note: cross your legs next time, Ems). I walked out into my backyard on a late Saturday morning to this... To my ya ya sisterhood.  I was yelling at my friends at how cute they were and to make a sweet face so I could capture the moment - C, make a nice face,  "you'll regret it if you look ugly." Whit, make it look like you're painting your toes or do something with that iced coffee. There, there. Sometimes you have to pose the moment, just a little, to get it just right.  After the picture I squeezed between them and scratched my friends' back and said oh if only we had some babies running around here with us, to which they replied with laughter and sighs... Fine, just get me a plant to take care of.  Then I jumped back into my chair so I could just look at 'em. Moments like these don't last long enough.  I want them to last forever.  I want to write about them and photograph them, the smiles, the sun, the love. I want to beam down at my friends, whose sisterhood I need, whose friendship I depend. My girls. These aren't just rare moments, these are lives lived with each other.  This is a glimpse into more than just a happy, carefree, lazy Saturday. It's a glimpse into laundromat runs, and late night talks, and tears, and doctor appointments and waiting for the bus at midnight just to get to your friend when she needs you.  Beautiful, beautiful sister friends. I love you, and I had to share this photo with the world, so I could remember it again and again.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

when do I get my own cute kids

I'm 25 and the number of failed relationships is rising. That's a fun statement to write. I'm really good at keeping friends. Really good at that. Or maybe they are really good at keeping me. Considering I have broken up every romantic relationship I have ever been in... I guess that's my problem. See, I'd like to, someday, not have to do that. I guess when it comes down to it I'm just not willing to stick with certain kinds of behaviors if it means I would potentially marry those behaviors. My friends I can love to death, and not have to make life decisions with on a daily basis. Plus I'm the friend with the disturbed life most of the time, so usually it is them that are glad they don't have to put up with me at every moment.  OK, I'm really not that dramatic but I am single, which complicates life in a different way than everyone else I know.  In my weak moments I do hate myself for it, because, like, why am I the single one still? I know there are plenty of people who aren't married at 25 and think nothing of it. But because I was raised Christian and most of the people I am surrounded by are still somewhat in this realm... I feel alone. It seems like a lot of people have found someone that they actually can stick with for more than six months. All I want is to share life with someone and have some cute kids. Sometimes I think I must not really want or it or I would have married the first man that ever cheated and lied. Yet somehow that doesn't seem like it would have been the right decision, even though it may have gotten me what I wanted. Cute kids.  I don't want to bring a bunch of cute kids into a terrible marriage, though, no matter how much I want them.

I know life is hard and complicated enough, and getting married and having kids just makes it more complicated. The hardest stuff you will ever do. But I also know it must be some of the most rewarding stuff, too. I feel it deep down. I know it would be that way for me. I'd like to get started right now, please.

Last year I started my Masters program. I ran the Chicago marathon. I started an awesome job that I love.

Just this month I got my first own little apartment, in my favorite neighborhood of Chicago, that's quiet, cute, and fun. It reminds me of home. It is a good place to call home. And my best friends are next door. Literally. I have the privilege to work from this home, a lot of people would kill for that. I'll graduate from my Masters program next summer. And get to live out one of my great purposes in life, one that I believe God has called me to even when I forget that He has.

My life is so good, so privileged, so blessed.

I was boohooing last night over some of these thoughts. Then I read the end of Philippians. Paul says, "I have learned the secret to being content..." Well, what the h-e-double hockey sticks is the answer, Paul, I'd sure like to know?

Peace. Peace in all circumstances. The Great Peace. The one we get only from God. That's contentment. I think I had this once, but I know I've loosened my grip on truly understanding it. I don't understand it like I used to because I doubt too much and life has weakened me. Failures and lost hope and unrequited love and pain have done their work and I forgot to dwell on good things instead of bad. My foundation doesn't feel as firm as it used to, but I know it's there...somewhere, and it was built long ago on the rock, so I know it's real and true and solid. I believe that.

I pray Shalom on my life and yours, too. I know that we are all broken, but that our wholeness is found in one that is not dependent upon us yet is always with us. I will try to remember and dwell in this completeness.

I'm imperfect for sure. If I didn't know that a few years ago I definitely know it now. And I bring these imperfections into everything and everyone, now. I guess we all do that. I have a lot of growing to do still. Maybe I will get to grow with someone, someday, and maybe I will get to have my own cute kids. I hope so. It's still hard for me to not feel shitty that I don't have that stick-with-it-ness that some people seem to have. In order for me to figure out what that's all about I will probably have to go to therapy. I'm a big believer in it. Job security.

This was more depressing than I meant it to be. I'm gonna work on being content, promise. Maybe even happy. And I'm going to try to think like this: "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Philippians 4:8

Happy Saturday, friends. Signed, 

An ever-increasing believer in arranged marriage.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

How many miles does it take for your love handles to go away?

{this was originally written 9/2013}

A freakin' lot. That's how many. 30 a week to be specific on just how many. The magical number, ladies, is 30. Isn't that depressing? When I was 19 I am pretty sure the number was about 12 miles, and my metabolism allowed me to eat cereal all day, everyday, with  a bag of chips and an ice cream cone each evening for good measure. Now, only five short years later, I haven't seen the effects of training for a marathon on my body until I hit my 30 mile a week mark. Then my hips finally, finally decided to inch their way in, tighter, smaller. They probably won't ever get back to where they were, and I haven't even had children yet. How absolutely terrifying. Makes me want to drown my sorrows in chocolate chip cookie dough. Let's not talk about how much beer I drink compared to when I was 19. Let's just not talk about it.

This whole marathon thing started accidentally for me. I'm going to tell you a really long version of how it accidentally happened, by the way, you don't just get to know right now. So, go grab a rice cake or something and then come back and start reading.

 After an entire childhood of soccer, I got to college and decided to take a jogging class. It was my fitness elective. I thought it'd be easy, I think. Mostly just a way to get outside for an hour instead of being in the gym or a classroom. I hate the gym. I hate being inside. The thought of working out indoors has kept me from knowing things one should know at my age about gym equipment. Instead it just looks scary, especially when being used by men in spandex. I prefer my men bearded and in flannel and a jean jacket, thanks. I know what a treadmill does but it's just so hot, and sweaty, and unless Sixteen & Pregnant is on while I'm running I really can't seem to stay motivated. Anyway.

I hated running when I first started class. I wasn't completely out of shape, but I wasn't in running shape. I wasn't in a running state-of-mind, actually. Every active thing I had ever done was a team effort and it was competitive. This was just three miles of open road, or a circular track, and myself. And my ipod. I really didn't like it. I was bored. But something amazing happened, about four weeks after starting the class, I ran my first four miles outside. Endorphin's kicked in (at least, that's what Runner's World tells me is happening). I called my roommate on my cool down and said "I liked it!" It was the first time I ever associated running with something akin to joy.

Post-class, I stayed at it for a while, and unbeknownst to me got into the best shape of my life. Eventually, though, becoming-an-adult life caught up and I stopped running so much. I started working. A lot. Life got really stressful. Running was still my release, but it didn't happen enough. At my highest weight, I had gained 25 pounds from the time I was in jogging class. I was also slightly underweight during the class, but 25 pounds on a 5'4 frame is a significant amount - and the ideal weight had definitely been surpassed. Holy crap. How did that happen?

Well, now, fast forward to 2013, in which began the worst five months I can recollect living, at least in the past ten years. This may come as a surprise to some who know me well, but maybe it shouldn't. Having to essentially cut myself off from the two closest communities I had known for two years, on top of the worst heartache of my life so far, spiraled me into a very sad place. This jumpstarted my diet! Just kidding. It wasn't a diet. I did lose 15 pounds because I was mostly just too depressed to eat. I would bring a sandwich to work for lunch, but never had the appetite to eat it. At night I was more interested in dominating online Facebook games and stalking than eating dinner. Luckily, though, it started getting warmer outside, and one day I put on my running shoes, ran eight miles, and haven't looked back at my blues since.

It wasn't quite that glorious, okay, honestly I didn't even realize it was happening until after a couple months I realized this running thing was doing good things for the rest of my life. It kept me motivated. It got me out in the sunshine. It gave me a reason to care again what I was putting in my body, and to eat well. I also started realizing what amazing people were all around in my life, and I started to treasure them beyond belief. It was almost too good to be true, how did I have these awesome friends, roommates, family to love and support me? How can I be so blessed? Once I was able to take a look at my life, I realized that 2013 could still be good. In fact, it could be great. It could be one of the best years of life so far. Why not?

I am a person of faith, and I believe that beautiful and powerful things can happen at any moment. One of them is that we can ask for healing, we can ask for things to change. And yet, sometimes we take advantage of all the asking, meanwhile sitting and moping. We don't get off our buttskis and do anything about it. I was sitting, and waiting, and praying for instantaneous change; for things to get better, for my heart to heal, for answers to come. While I didn't get everything answered, I did discover that we have within ourselves what we need to change. Maybe I knew this already, but I was learning it all over again. Running was what gave me focus, gave me insight into how great my life already was, and all I needed to do was look. And run!

It reminds me of that quote from Conan O'Brien during all that unfortunate network bologna a few years back he had to go through:

 "If you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen."

I would arguably say that there is no better advice to give. That, and, it really, really, is going to be okay. I have seen so many people in the past year go through a lot of hard things, my hard things so small in comparison, and I must say, most of those people are so much stronger than they were. Sure, there has been therapy, sure, there have been moments that seem like they cannot be gotten through - but they were gotten through. Maybe life isn't looking like you wanted it to. Maybe you accidentally got kind of fat. Maybe someone left you, or you left them. Maybe your career just got flushed down the toilet, or you wish it would be. Maybe your college degree is worthless. Maybe you had something happen that was sad, and you can't even tell anyone.

I don't know if running is your thing, or the answer to all your problems. But I bet it would help. And if running really isn't your thing, a good, long walk outside might do the trick. I know this: while your heart is pumping and your muscles are shaping (even ever so slightly), and there is a a beautiful world to look at around you, your mind can rest. And in chaos, a resting mind is a good one. A satisfied heart in your accomplishment is a good one. Work hard. Be kind. Amazing.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Runaway Bunny

Sometimes I get downright terrified in my vulnerable moments that God is not really with me or that I don't deserve to have him care or that I haven't done anything good enough for him in a while and so he has given up. Sometimes I am scared that we're all alone. I wake up from muddled dreams that I knew were happening and yet I couldn't stop them, and I tried to pray through them but they just kept forming as I tossed in my restless sleep. Then I remember.

"Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me." Psalm 139

We live in a big, scary world. The longer you are alive the more you realize all the pain that people live with, all the bad that exists.  You can't keep it out, no matter how hard you try.  Even when I was young I was never completely carefree - though I can kick back and let the good times roll with the best of them, I find in some of the most unexpected, quiet or weak moments I am overwhelmed with the tragedy around us, the lack of justice, the never ending stories on the news of people killing other people, or even my own badness. 

It is too much. I know too much that I can't unknow. 

In these moments what else can be done but to mumble, whisper, and cry out prayers. These are precious words that are heard by an Almighty Ear. That's all I know. Is that I can think prayers, I can voice prayers, I can sob prayers, and they are always being listened to. I don't know that I care about the answer so much as I just need to know, have to know, must know that God is with me, always, where ever I go, and he is listening. 

None of us can go so far that he can't reach us, and none of us can go so far that he doesn't want to reach us. He will always want to reach us, he will always want to hear us, he will always want to know us.

“If you become a bird and fly away from me,
said his mother, “I will be a tree that you come home to.” [The Runaway Bunny]

Whether you are tying to run, or if the world just came crashing down on you, or your dreams keep you awake at night, or you are just mad at what we as humans are all capable of doing to ourselves and each other, remember, dear God remember, that he is with us. Holding us. Healing us. 

I may not sleep peacefully tonight, but I will fall asleep talking to one who will endlessly listen and love. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


It took me about five tries to make the title of this not sound like I am a big jerk, and it still kind of sounds like it. I guess I just am then. (Think "I hate being hungry" then think "Privileged American")

When you're running 30-40 miles a week, guess what? You're always hungry. I have been consuming all of my roommate's running magazines like they are peanut butter and bananas themselves and it seems that runners are kind of obsessed about food. And, actually, they have to be. Either because they love food - which many do and that's why they clock the miles - and also because our bodies desperately need the right kind of fuel when putting them through the training.  Here's the problem.

I don't care. My preferred rate of metabolism is: snail-like slow. Before I started running so much this summer my eating habits were fairly minimal. I worked a desk job. I could drink OJ and have a sandwich and I was content. You really can be when you sit around all day. There isn't really a food on the planet I "crave" consistently with the exceptions of tacos and peanut butter. I could live on these two things, and these two things alone. Also, I like my drinks: coffee, juices, the occasional soda pop. That's it, in a nutshell.

Also, I do not hate to cook but I also don't like it very much and also, also, I am quite bad at it. I can follow directions (which makes me a decent baker) but when it comes to throwing things together and having them taste amazing, well, I am terrible. Somehow I add an ingredient that makes normal food taste like I mixed it with garbage. So coming home from work with a huge appetite is a problem, you see?

I don't need a personal chef, because I do not want one. Plus, I would request the same thing every night. Tacos. And they would get mad at me and quit in two weeks.

Not only do I have to eat all the time so my tummy doesn't rumble, I also have to care exceedingly what I am eating. This isn't so bad. I should learn to care. I'm trying. And I do like good things like vegetables and fruits and oatmeal and all that jazz. But really body, so much of it? All the time? Can't you ever stop being so needy? Oh, now you need some extra protein? Now iron? Now Vitamin C? I am to the point where eating a protein bar that tastes like chalk is actually a joy because I know it has all of these things in it, the label says so.

Sorry if this sounds really whiny. I guess it is. I just needed to let you know that while I love running, and this has been an amazing experience so far, I cannot wait to stop eating. so. much. The whole eating in excess because you can thing is, well, not my thing. For people that love to cook, for people that truly love food, for people that are really into health, I am downright positive that training for a marathon, or just running the miles because you want to, is a great way to merge all of your hobbies into one. But if you're like me, and have little interest in food... it's a terrible, terrible mistake.

The ever-hungry and hating it runner