Sunday, November 12, 2017

Seasons of Relationships


They say that when you make it to the top, it’s lonely, it doesn’t keep you company in bed at night.

I never understood that statement. In fact, I thought it utterly ridiculous. I was hungry to climb that ladder. Being lonely, has never been foreign to me.

You see, while I’ve always loved romance novels, I’ve loved the feel of a gun in my hand more, starting at a target 10m away, pulling the trigger and seeing the highest score pop up (prior competitive shooter, don't worry!).

I love the feeling of dressing up, makeup perfect, little black dress hugging my curves for a night out but the feel of baggy jeans and an oversized sweatshirt as I sit around a bonfire of guys with a beer in hand has always felt more natural.

I didn’t speak the language of girls as a child. Barbie dolls and dress up any better than now, fancy manicures, couture fashion and expensive red wine in hand. I’d prefer toy cars, wooden trains, naturally ripped jeans, bare nails, and $6 wine.

Loneliness is a place I’ve coexisted with for years. It wasn’t until recently I looked around and realized, my queen-sized bed might be too big just for me.

There have been seasons of my life that I haven’t been the greatest friend. They say that true friends stick it out through it all and while that may be true, all relationships aren’t meant for life but some of them for a season. A fact I am all too familiar with at the moment.

I got tired of looking at my phone Thursday nights, wondering what I’d do for the weekend and realizing, if I didn’t plan it, no one else would. Or, if I didn’t invite a friend to dinner or an activity, I’d be home alone. As I looked around, I realized I was pouring all the effort into relationships that at the end of day, those people didn’t have a clue what was going on. They weren’t the ones to have my back when someone wasn’t treating me well. Or the ones to invite me to do something. And it hurt. It hurt when it happened in 7th grade, in 10th when I still had few friends, and in my twenties after I built an entire friend group that I realized didn’t invest in relationships the same way I did. I found myself exhausted. Not the kind a weekend in bed could fix but one that involved me walking completely away from most of the relationships in my life and walking back to the one who has called me to be.

Walking with God isn’t something he ever promised would be easy. He does promise us through that since he got through it, so could we (John 16:33).

On the Friday nights I look around and stare at my dog (and a pretty dog she is!) I won’t try to act like it’s the best feeling. However, the best feeling is realizing half the energy I was putting into relationships everyone else took for granted was pouring it into something that was 100% me. That’s okay.


So I’ll go to a movie by myself. Put extra time into the gym and meal prepping. Walk my dog and go for a hike just her and I. Write in my journal, seek out God, and just be. Everything is a season a time for something in each of our lives. When your season comes, I encourage you not to fill it up with empty hook-ups, large bottles of wine, meaningless tv. My time and talents are better than that and so are yours.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

^Change^

_^ Change _^

A definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over, expecting to get a different result.

If you don’t change your exercise habits and eating plan, how do you expect to lose weight?

If you feel stuck in your job, evaluate what you’ve done differently to earn the job change.

If the only action your Bible is getting is as an ornament on your bookshelf or nightstand, why are you still calling out for help when your life plan is sitting right there?

If you’re still single or unhappy in your relationship, what are you actively changing and working on yourself to be the best version of you that someone else would want to partner with?

This has become such a personal topic in the last few years and even more so in the last few weeks. I’ve often looked around and felt all the emotions I’ve described above. I wondered what was wrong with me that as hard I was grinding, I couldn’t find the success I was desperately craving in all areas of my life. I was guilty of the Marsh Land Trap.

What’s the Marsh Land Trap you ask?

It’s where you try something, thinking you’re getting off on the right foot only to get stuck. It might be right out of the gate, the very first step you take or it might be further along, when you’ve taken just enough to have developed this false bravado, confident you can handle it that you take the wrong step.

You immediately start flailing, unable to hoist yourself out of the mess. The only way to get out was to ask for help. I was hunting recently in an area that much of which is land I have access to roam is marsh land. I try to avoid stepping on it. For those unfamiliar with marsh land, it can be very dangerous for a couple reasons. Marsh land is often covered with tall stalks of different plants so that you can’t really see what might be on the ground if the vegetation hasn’t been maintained. Alligators love marsh land. I’ll leave that one right there. Second, marsh land is unpredictable in its sturdiness to support weight. Some of it is baked hard from the sun, allowing you to jump around. Other and even more dangerous parts are like quicksand; with wrong step, you’ve been sucked down in. The weekend I was down while we were sitting around one evening, I heard stories of marsh land attacks. In one story, the guy that had been sucked in, used an oar he had from having been paddling in the water to pry himself out. The second one was in so deep, he had to be levered out by two guys and an ATV.

In the first, he used the resources he had at his disposal while the second one was in so deep without resources to be self-sufficient he had to ask for help.

As I reflect on both scenarios, I have to ask myself, in what parts of my life am I the one with the paddle and in which do I need to go as far as to ask for an ATV lift?

It’s not shameful to ask for help. Our society has taught that we have to be independent, self-sufficient, learning how to do things on our own. While that’s great, it’s created this shift of mentality that asking for help can be a sign of weakness. It doesn’t have to be. The first step is recognizing the need for change. Step 2 is actually implementing change and the third is accountability. That accountability might involve asking for help when you’re stuck. That’s okay. Just be specific and choosy when deciding who to ask to be that person. They will be the one to speak reason and reassurance into you. I have some thoughts around that but for now, I encourage you to be strategic in who is speaking into you and ensure what they are saying speaks truth and life, not doubt and discouragement. In reality, it’s much easier to pull someone down then lift someone up.

Change doesn’t start tomorrow. Change starts today. It’s active, constant, and requires discipline. No one will say it will be easy. No one will say the right path will always be evident. Recognizing if you need help might be the first step though. Ask. There are people in your life you know will support you if you just turn to them.


At the end of the day, we all have a desire to improve, grow, and learn. We all have those opportunities. What are you doing to take advantage of them?

Monday, January 23, 2017

Advice from an Insomniac


Insomnia

I’ve often found that advice is like the Christmas presents from the grandma you see once a year that has no true grasp of your age or interest; well intentioned but often misses the mark.

What frequently makes it golden is when it’s unsolicited. Really, please. Share your expert opinion on a topic you’ve never personally dealt with that I did not truly want. Oh, you thought I was asking for it? I think you either need to join Sheldon on a lecture on sarcasm (Big Bang Theory, c’mon please somebody) or ductwork please because I was just venting. No, really you didn’t see the steam rising from me?

If you don’t mind (really, I don’t care if you do, the back button is located in the top left corner for your ease) I just want to share a few thoughts for those that don’t suffer from insomnia.

1. Don’t tell me the couple restless nights you’ve had suddenly make you understand.

While I love our friends at webmd because really, who else would be able to tell us that the small light cough you’ve developed that you (unfortunately) felt the strong urge to google is in fact, actually, the start of the bubonic plague and beginning of the end of all civilization. I decided to go with the Mayo Clinic on this one. By definition, insomnia is habitual. Not occasionally, not once a week when you’re stressed. Not, oh yes!  Christmas is tomorrow and I can’t sleep I’m as giddy as a little kid problem. Habitual.

Insomnia: “Insomnia is a persistent disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep or both, despite the opportunity for adequate sleep. With insomnia, you usually awaken feeling unrefreshed, which takes a toll on your ability to function during the day. Insomnia can sap not only your energy level and mood but also your health, work performance and quality of life.”

2. “Yeah man, I stayed up late last night too playing Pokemon Go! So I totally get that tired thing.

No, you got the stupidity gene that first allowed you to play that game and second to lose precious sleep over it while the rest us wish we could just take your hours you clearly don’t care about while we stare at the ceiling for two hours trying to fall asleep. Or four hours. Just depends on the night.

3. Why don’t you try drinking warm milk?

Yes, all the world’s problems can be cured with a good cup of warm milk or soothing tea. This isn’t England and I don’t have Mary Poppins floating around. You think I haven’t tried that? For several nights straight to set a rhythm?

P.S. Warm milk is gross.

4. Perhaps you need to change your environment.

I bought a $1,000 mattress, blackout curtains, sleep with ear plugs, no clock, and my phone is face down on silent. What else you got? Not feng shui.

5. Well, I read this article that being on your electronics before bed is bad for sleep.

You mean because it can disrupt the melatonin that is released by your body which is the chemical that signals to your body time to go to sleep. And were you referring to the article from doctor’s weekly? Or the one in readers digest? Perhaps you meant the 10 page scientific article recently published in cambridge’s website on the topic of insomnia that came out last week that briefly mentioned this? You see, while you snore away at 1 .m. I’m busy reading articles only on how to not have to spend another night reading articles at 1 a.m.

6. You should really see a doctor about that.

Gosh, why didn’t I think of that? Silly me, was thinking Joe Schmo could produce miracle advice over here but really asking a professional never crossed my mind.

Oh wait, I already tried three different ones about it. Let me ask my doctor about the ongoing problems they are treating me for. It’ll probably only the umpteenth conversation I’ve had with them about this. Solid advice.

7. Just drink some coffee in the morning, you’ll be fine.

Band-aid, meet gunshot wound.

8. Well, I’ve heard alcohol can be relaxing. Maybe you should try a glass of wine before bed.

Alcoholism. I’m just going to drop that one here and walk away.

9. Perhaps you should see a therapist.

And that my friends, is like the Christmas I received a universal size bathrobe. Finally close to the mark. And that was fun.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Letter from Iraq


A Letter from Iraq
This time of year we look around and reflect on the things we are thankful for, consider what we’ve accomplished, and anticipate the changes we want to make for the New Year.

As everyone reflects, I encourage you to take a moment to consider what a blessing it is to have the absolute basics and offer prayers for those that don’t. For instance; our troops.

While you may think this is a post highlighting what they’ve endured or how we should be more grateful, let me change direction. I offer instead, merry words of wisdom and laughter to brighten your night (while also, reminding you how great things are because really, you aren’t burning trash to stay warm….)

A letter from my brother while he was in Iraq. For those that have different “reading voices,” I plead with you to carefully select and proceed with the most sarcastic tone you have saved. He should be a writer; right?!

“Parents, sibling, and pets, (we only had one pet, please also note the lack of “dear”)

How goes it back in the land of running water, flushing toilets, warm beds, and food besides MRE’s? Hope all is well, health is good, knees are healing (mother had a knee replacement surgery), colleges are accepting (written during my senior year) and jobs are hiring. Over here in the land of sand, with bottled water, dig your own toilet, smelly sleeping bags, and nothing besides MRE’s (MRE=Meals Ready to Eat, disgusting freeze dried food that has only marginally gotten better with time) and VGR’s (economy sized MRE’s for groups, we call them Useless Grunt Rations), everything is cold and dusty, as is to be expected.
We have begun this wonderful mission where we stay up most nights in the freeing cold, in a screen line, where our LAV’s are spread in a line, and we look for smugglers. It’s so gay, it makes Elton John look straight.
Last showered approximately 5 pairs of socks ago. Have stopped judging things by time, only by whether or not I can stomach the smell and feel of my socks another day. It will be approximately 3-4 more pairs of socks until my mission of scrubbing the jungle of fungi and bacteria off all anatomical parts is achieved.
The best mornings are when we resupply and have a lot of trash so that we can make a fire to stay warm. Sort of like homeless people. We build trash fires to stay warm and are wearing pretty much everything we own to stay warm. It’s sad, it really is (contrary to popular belief, the average at night in the winter in Iraq is 30’s). We rely on other people’s handouts (packages), our packs could be considered our shopping cart, because it has the majority of our possessions in it, and our bathing habits aren’t what you would call regular. Not saying we smell, but I could probably throw one of those aforementioned socks into a florist, and put them out of business. We’re an assault on the olfactory system (Brandon has to be fancy with his big words, it’s how you perceive smell), smashing into it like Katrina into New Orleans (I think his sense of sensitivity and political correctness went out the window in those conditions…just kidding he never had either of those). Every night I get into my sleeping bag, it’s like the Hulk Hogan of bad smells slapping into the face.
Well, that’s it from this dusty, desolate, domain. Hopefully the next time correspondence is exchanged, we will have bathed and done laundry. I almost feel bad for the laundry people, and then I remember they stay on base all day and night. Those bastards.

                                                                                    Love you all,
                                                                                    Son, sibling, owner”


*Everything in blue is my addition for context*