Forks in the Road Don’t Have to Have a Right and Wrong

I’m not entirely sure the purpose of nostalgia. Is it a longing for something we no longer have? A happy remembrance of what brought us to where we are today? An opportunity to laugh about your mistakes or relish in the distant praise of your few successes?

I’ve been caught up in sweet dreams of nostalgia lately. Laughter over some of my inexplicable past and a yearning for the rush that followed some of my small victories; I mull it over with an understanding that I did not have before and a clarity that comes with age.

What is the purpose of nostalgia?

Perhaps these feelings of nostalgia simply precede the next great thing.

__________________________________________________________________________________

When you get married, do you know what they say? They say things like, “Everyone is in such a rush to get married lately! I’m taking my time and enjoying my independence.”

“I couldn’t imagine tying myself down at this point in my life.”

“We are so happy as boyfriend and girlfriend; why would we want to ruin that?”

They don’t say it to you as a warning, rather they say it at you while thinking to themselves aloud. They are lost in their own thoughts… In their personal journey of love, of relationships, of independence. Yet though they do not speak to but only at you, you hear them. And it stings to know that your friendships will inevitably change in this next chapter of life.

Suddenly, you are lost in the sweet nostalgia of an unbridled life. An ability to leave. To be tough. To stand up to anyone… And then you take the leap.

__________________________________________________________________________________

There are choices each day that define you. A series of crossroads. And if you choose wisely, you will find more happiness in the fork you choose than you will leave behind. And as you continue to move forward with your choices, you will begin to cherish nostalgia. It is no longer a longing for the past. It is a keen awareness and acceptance of the choices that have brought you forward.

__________________________________________________________________________________

The next time people speak aloud and tell you that a spouse is a chain and a house is an anchor or a child is the end of fun as you know it, you must keep silent. Do not retaliate or defend your choice. Do not hesitate or hurt. Remind yourself that you are happier on this turn because of the direction you chose… That this is your path and that the people speaking to themselves aloud have made the equally important choice for themselves to be single or unwed, un-mortgaged, or without attempt for children. And you must honor their choices as well.

We need to start a revolution. To fight human nature, which tells us that the grass is greener on the other side. We must not pull others toward feelings of regret to protect us from those feelings ourselves. And we must also watch ourselves when we are tempted to react to some news of a friend’s new direction following a fork in the road.

Do not compare their choices to those of your own. Just listen, love, and accept.

__________________________________________________________________________________

We need more advocates for love in this world. For inclusiveness. For appreciation of these crossroads and the opportunities these choices make. For those that follow different paths and for those who go in an expected direction.

You are not better because you are different. You are not better because you are the same. You are you and your “you” is beautiful. I am me and that is beautiful too.

Advertisements

Made To Crave

Confession: I have a terrible relationship with food.

It calls to me, without relent. It taunts me from afar, on my plate, and later on my body. I have told myself that it’s okay to eat the way I eat and the amount that I eat because I exercise. But throughout seasons of inadequate exercise, I’ve had to find a new excuse. So, I told myself that it was okay because I have a fast metabolism. But without exercise and with the passing years, I find my excuse once again faulted. I’ve also used celebration, sadness, stress, and boredom as my meager excuses, each leaving me prey to guilt and shame.

I have turned to excuses instead of solutions to manage my relationship with food, but it’s starting to  wear on me – physically, emotionally, mentally…and as I’m coming to realize, spiritually.

First of all, you must understand that you can struggle with food whether you’re skinny, of healthy weight, or obese. I know I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. Technically, I wear the same pant size that I have been wearing since I was in high school (although there are a few pairs  that are now too snug for comfort!). It doesn’t matter. What I know about my relationship with food is measured by the way my body feels, the energy I have (or don’t have), and the tightness of my clothes. It is not, for me, measured by weight.

This might be contradictory to what we see on TV, but I’ll be the first to say that my transition from college to now has seen me at 137 lbs to 142 down to 132 and from there up to 150, now trying to find solace around 142 once more. Those are real weights. My weight. You see, my weight does not bother me. In fact, when I was the most fit in college, I weighed more than I weigh now.

That’s the trick of muscle vs. fat.

I know when I’m not being healthy. And it isn’t just the fast food bags that I leave in my car out of fear of visual confession. That’s another story. I don’t even LIKE fast food! What am I doing? It’s not just the bag of workout gear that’s been sitting, untouched, in my car for the past several months. It’s not just anything. It’s a combination of things, all of which point to one sorry excuse: Lack of willpower. No, not willpower. Because willpower has become this thing that we joke about. “I just don’t have it!” we cry! And somehow that’s become an acceptable excuse among our friends, laughable even.

What I lack: Determination. Commitment. Hard work. My real issue with food is that I am always looking for an excuse. I love food. I hate food. Either way, I find myself eating when I’m full or eating things I instantly regret. It’s a problem that I’ve had, maybe secretly, since at least 5th grade. And it’s left me sluggish, and upset, and full of shame and defensiveness.

I don’t believe in diets.

I don’t like people telling me what I can and cannot eat.

I’ve been carefully stepping on a slippery slope, always telling myself that I can still get back to my healthy lifestyle when I make the decision to do so. All the while, I’m absolutely aware that life happens. Excuses happen. And I could very well find myself years down the road cursing the fact that I didn’t start now.

I picked up a book the other day. Every once in a while, I get a book or magazine about healthy eating or lifestyles to make me feel healthy. It’s pathetic, I know. (I had a habit of reciting Bob Greene’s The Best Life Diet for some time, but it’s now been replaced). This book, Made To Crave, is different.

Made To Crave by Lysa Terkeurst is a spiritual approach to a healthy lifestyle. In it, Lysa examines our draw to food from a biblical standpoint. She embraces that we are made to crave but encourages us to use our cravings as they were intended, to honor God. She challenges herself and her readers to see their unhealthy food cravings as roadblocks to our true purpose to crave a close relationship with God.

I know it might seem far fetched to non-believers, but I really don’t have the determination/commitment/hard work to do this on my own. I think Lysa is onto something. In fact, I think that she might have tapped into the most important diet secret of all…

Anyway, I’ll let you know how my spiritual life improves as I join her on this journey. Hopefully, it will come with a report of renewed energy too!

Damn You, Pinterest!

Five minutes looking through Pinterest and I think I can sew outfits, create DIY jewelry, cook gourmet meals, and effortlessly put together crafts. Ten minutes later, I find myself at the local Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, or grocery store. In 30, I’m happily starting moving from Pin to table, determining my approach. In 45, I’m feeling creative and alive; I’m wondering why I don’t do this more often.

In 90 minutes, I’m defeated. I have crap and scrap up to my ears and I’m tripping over tangible failure.

It started with a casserole. And my first time using corn starch.

Corn starch is terrifying. I don’t know what it really is, but it sank to the bottom of my pan and sat, jelly-like, until I scraped it up. It balled up and separated into clumps while I called my husband and cried that I had ruined everything I had slaved over. He was on his way home, so I just stood waiting, panicking and stirring in front of the stove. Apparently corn starch requires adrenaline and tears to activate because after a few minutes, it loosened up and all but disappeared. Alien ingredient. I don’t like it one bit.

My second venture through Pinterest pages led me to an ornament wreath. A wire hanger? Not suitable for clothing but, by the looks of it, perfect for DIY wreaths! I picked out bunches of ornaments and heated up my hot glue gun. I wanted it to lay  flat on a door, so I sectioned it off and glued the sections together to hold form.

Little by little, I built up the wreath. I lifted it to check that it wouldn’t turn. Good to go. I finally reached the very top with ornaments and realized that I still need to make the ends of the hanger into clasps. Carefully, I twisted the wire.

Carefully, sure, but it’s still wire and that wire is temperamental! I twisted and twisted and grunted and let out a scream as the ornaments shifted and popped free of their glued places. Shattered ornaments slid down and around to the back. I tried several times to piece them back together but a wreath once broken can never be repaired. In the end, I gave up. I wrapped the last of my green wedding tulle around the top and threw it on the door. Who needs a full wreath anyway?

After the wreath, I decided I didn’t need to pay for a bow to tie around my next craft. So I bought gold, wired ribbon and went about fashioning my own. Pinterest supplied the blueprint, but I learned too late in the game that both sides must be the same in order to achieve the desired look. Otherwise, you must twist it each time you come to center to maintain the same look around the bow. It’s a hassle. And it makes it harder to get an even bow. Which I now know.

Feeling inspired by some saved mishaps, I went back to food. Pinterest led me to Nutella cookies. I love Nutella. And I love cookies. This had to be a no-brainer.

There were only three other ingredients; I thought this would mean success but four-ingredient cookies are chalky. And they burn. Or turn into cement. I’m not sure why. Just take my word for it.

The point is, Pinterest tricks me into thinking I’m something I’m not. I get so excited only to realize that I’ve missed a step, or don’t have the touch, or didn’t think the project through. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is: I keep going back to it.

Pinterest leads me to believe I can make those things or bake those things or create those things. It makes them look easy. Easy enough for me.

Damn you, Pinterest.

Mourning Utilities with a Happy Heart.

Here’s the countdown, if you can believe it: I am 10 days away from marrying my best friend. At this point, I’ve surpassed the wedding jitters and just want to get on with the show, okay?! Next Saturday feels like miles away and we cannot wait to be married to each other!

It’s great, preparing to marry your companion. It’s exciting and fun and joyful. It doesn’t feel strange either. Looking up marriage license information doesn’t seem strange to me at all. Nor does calling to confirm appointments or putting on my wedding dress at the fitting. It’s not strange to pick up our keys to our new place. These things just aren’t strange to me!

But for whatever reason, today when I put a stop notice on my gas utility service for October 24, it flipped my stomach.

No more favorite little apartment.

No more coming home to my own space.

I will never go home to something that is just mine ever again.

Don’t get me wrong! Every night I come home to my little apartment now, I wish Freddy would come too. That’s why it is strange that I feel this ping that I’m leaving something behind. A heart tug over utilities?!?!?

I went to a church service once about change. (Well, to be fair, I’ve heard many sermons about change…but this one sticks out in my head.) I’m certain I’ve mentioned it before, but the idea behind it was that change is difficult for us. End of story. Be it bad, good, or great change – we must go through a season of mourning for whatever we leave behind in change.

So here I am, mourning my little apartment while at the same time decorating our new apartment in my mind, filling it with pictures and laughter and Freddy’s guitar playing and piano.

The whole thing is just an unexpected reminder that we, as people, struggle with change even when we yearn for it.

It’s a good lesson to come across with such a happy heart. Remind me of this later in life. I’m certain that I will need it!

Aging: A Series

I’ve decided that I might like to write a series on aging.

Yes, I realize that statement might leave you wondering exactly what qualifies me for such a series at 24 years-old. However, if you are sitting at your desk wondering that same thought, I have already considered your doubt and would, therefore, like to state my credentials for you now:

This very year, I found my first gray white hair.

It’s true.

Well, to be completely honest, I never really did find it. Rather it was brought to my attention amid cheers, clapping and glee as my fiance’s eyes grew very large (a particular feat, as they are already quite large). He let out an excited gasp, which was followed immediately by a sharp tug felt on the top of my head.

“Look!” he exclaimed as he brought down a single strand of colorless hair.

Oh, how I wished it would slip from his fingers as he moved his arm downward, but his grasp seemed strengthened with maddening joy.

I took it between my fingers to examine the foreign strand and I admit, I felt a sickening twinge of betrayal deep within my gut. My own body had already begun to turn against me after only 24 years of living. How awful. It wasn’t just the hair either. Those fine lines that I had earlier blamed on an overabundance of makeup began to morph into a permanent fixture in my eyes.

And perhaps it was that day that I finally raised a flag to aging: White…the color of surrender.

Give thanks!

Today I am grateful for:

  • Clean dishes
  • Weekends with Freddy
  • Check marks on my wedding to-do list
  • Sunshine
  • Family
  • Countdowns
  • Gatherings with friends
  • Dark-chocolate-covered raisins
  • H2O
  • Snail mail
  • My fiance’s ability to set me up for success
  • September parties with family
  • God’s plan
  • Ada Bible Church messages
  • Pandora, my workout buddy
My heart is full with room to grow!