Category Archives: Musings

I don’t know where I’m going

When you’re 17 and looking at the prospect of college, career, and life on your own, you feel an incredible pressure to KNOW what you want to do for the rest of your life. Your confident peers all seem to know the path of their next 5-10 years, with college, grad school, and a boyfriend, (that they’re sure will become a husband) all carefully lined up. And there you are unsure of what you even LIKE doing, let alone what you want to commit to for the rest of your life. But let me tell you a secret…

It’s okay to not know where you’re going.

Between the ages of 18 and 28 your life changes dramatically – you change. You discover passions you didn’t know you had, you fall in love with things you thought you hated, and the guy you hoped you’d marry…well lets just say you’re thankful you didn’t. Life becomes a beautiful, confusing, delightful puzzle for which you’ve lost the box. And it’s okay. It’s good.

A decade and a half ago, when I was deciding on a major, all I knew was that I wanted to help people, I wanted to travel, and I wanted to have an exciting life. (How’s that for a business plan?) I settled on International Relations, but after a bad experience with economics, I switched to History, deciding that if I wanted to help people I needed to know where they came from, and what their stories were.

If I had known then what I know now, I would have been able to articulate what it was about history that captured me. It gave me the skills to read critically, write effectively, and to value the stories of who we were and who we’ve become. These are key values in my life – it is why I am constantly drawn to writing, to communicating stories, histories, and dreams. It is essential for us to know where we came from, for it will inform our decisions of who we will become. But a career in history was never in my sights, instead it was to become a tool set I would use throughout my life.

My last 10 years have shown me so many things I had a passion for that I never fully realized. Spreadsheets have a calming consistency that’s surprising, math still makes me want to cry, writing is a deep seated passion, and food…well food is something I fell in love with and it’s turning out to be a huge motivator of my future.

A decade after graduating with my B.A. I began pursuing my MPH in Nutrition. Andy Stanley’s quote of a 1992 book challenged me, “What do I believe is impossible to do in my field but if it could be done would fundamentally change my business?” – Joel Barker, 1992 “Paradigms” This started me on a journey of asking myself, what impossible problem am I designed to challenge? The answer? Helping others learn how to cook healthy, nutritious meals, so that they can care for themselves and for their families. In short, improving the health of our society.

That’s a lofty dream, so where on earth do I start? My first answer was to pursue my MPH in Nutrition. But now, 6 months into a 30 month stint , I have so many more questions, I am more aware of how much I don’t know, the specific job ahead of me is undefined, and how I want this to shape my life is still unknown. But I do know that this passion has been inside of me for a long time, and this step to pursuing my MPH was a leap of faith. I may not know where I’m going, but I know I’m supposed to go.

Today, I challenge you to ask yourself the question – what is my impossible problem and how can I solve it? Sit with it for awhile. It’s okay if you don’t know where you’re going, sometimes we’re well into the journey before we discover the destination.

not know

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Writer – Five Minute Friday

Usually when I get blogs sent to my email, I delete them in a hurry to “clean-up” and move on, forgetting the whole reason I subscribed in the first place. Today, something caught me and I stopped to read Lisa-Jo Baker’s post “Five Minute Friday:Writer”. Here’s the skinny: 

Each Friday, write on the given prompt for five minutes flat. No major editing, no worrying about punctuation or grammar – just write. Then post and share. Oh, and encourage the person who shared before you. That’s the ONLY rule. It’s a good rule.

Well…that sounded like an attainable challenge, one right up my alley. And so, I’m joining in. I’m inconsistent at best with posting, and maybe, hopefully, this can be a really, really good thing for me. 

Here we go…

Writer

This word brings up so many thoughts and emotions in me. I love writing. I’ve loved it since I learned how to write. I would steal away and write stories about anything and everything, but I was always afraid to share them, afraid to hear the critiques and the “This would be better if…” I mean after all I was 7 years old, I wrote for the adventure of it.

As an adult I have longed to sit down and write. I have a million stories in my mind, but always with the question – is it worth writing these stories? Is it worth the time, the criticism, the questions? And yet, so often in my life people have spoken over me about writing, about pouring myself out on the page. A quill pen, a symbol that was imprinted on my heart 6 years ago, and still, I don’t write.

Writing is intimate in its creation. And then so violently and quickly it becomes public. What you write and post you can’t take back – someone somewhere has seen it. How do you form into words those feelings those thoughts, so that they can be understood and shared? How do you take your heart and lay it on a page and watch as the world comes to take a look?

So I write. Privately. Secretly. And on rare occasional I’ll let someone in to read it. I’ll let someone see my heart there – red against white.

But I want to be a brave writer. I want to tell a story and to change a heart. I want to say “It’s okay – you’re not alone.”

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Back to School – Again

It has been almost a decade since I’ve been in school. Today I returned. 

To me, Fall begins when Back to School commercials appear on the TV once again. No matter how long I have been out of school I still get an urge to buy pencils, notebooks and binders and dig into a new textbook. I love learning, I always have. What I don’t love is the stress of grades and performance. I love learning without any restrictions or limitations (i.e. things that have to be turned in or known otherwise your teacher will be mad at you). If I could sit in on lectures and classes my whole life I probably would. Learning is beautiful, exciting and it opens up new possibilities. 

Since I began my job at our local University I have overheard my boss talking about courses he was auditing. Dreams of getting to take a class this fall began consuming my thoughts and finally I asked “Would it be possible for me to take French this fall?” My boss was thrilled. “Yes, take it with me! We can speak French in the office!” I gently reminded him that it had been almost 15 years since my last French class so I’d be starting at level one. His enthusiasm only slightly diminished, he replied “Oh, okay…well, take the afternoon class with Yann, he’s great!” With that, I submitted my form to the Registrar and my journey began.

Today was my first day of class. I worked over 45 hours last week preparing for our Freshmen to begin their college career, and I felt as excited, (probably more, if I’m honest) as they did walking to class today. I also felt a little nervous, hoping I’d find the classroom, hoping I’d not stand out too badly (I’m 10+years older than these kids) and that it would be as fun as I had hoped.

It was fun, but it was different. I was prepared with my paper and pen and yet I found myself feeling like I should’ve brought my iPad. I felt ill-equipped to jump into this 21st Century mode of learning. Our syllabus, powerpoints, labs, everything were online. I felt at a loss without a syllabus in my hand that I could jot notes on, unable to circle and underline and star important information. It was all on the screen, on the web, out of reach from my pen. 

The teacher however was not unfamiliar. A white-haired, charming frenchman he joked and laughed and made the class feel at home. He fiddled with the technology and although he used it well, it left me at a loss with my notebook. I jotted down a few words, just so my pen didn’t feel useless in my hands. 

This is a new world of learning. I still remember taking French when I was 16 years old at a local community college. The professor wrote the alphabet in chalk on the board and we practiced pronunciation over and over. Today, I watched a youtube video of a frog pronouncing the alphabet and I repeated after him. It’s a different world.

I am so excited to be in the classroom again, I love our professor, I enjoy my fellow students, and while I feel like an old hat at school in one sense, in another I feel oddly unfamiliar with this method. I know youtube, I’ve built several classes for faculty with the online format used, and yet, being on the receiving end I now realize that the classroom has changed. It’s not what I’m used to, it’s not bad, it’s just new. The way education is presented changes with each generation based on their culture and needs, but the foundational process of learning, analyzing, and assimilating information has not changed. I still learned how to pronounce the french alphabet — a frog taught me instead of marks of chalk. The basics are there but they come in a different package.

I’ll be honest though…I still miss the chalk. 

 

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Texas Traits

Texas grows on you. I must admit I don’t live in the most beautiful area of Texas, but it has its hidden charms. Namely, the people. I have never smiled at so many people, said hello to so many strangers, and felt so free to ask for help in a grocery store. In California, with some exceptions, I learned to avoid eye contact because I don’t know what invitation I might have just given with my smile. Or, and this really happened, I might “offend” someone by being too friendly…seriously? 

I have always been a friendly, albeit shy, person. But I had no idea how guarded I was until I moved out of California. Texans might just take the cake for friendliness and I find myself at an awkward loss wondering when I should make eye contact and when it’s okay to walk past without acknowledgement. 

I work at a small Christian University and the friendliness is exponential here. When I first started working I would purposely take the longer route to the mail simply to walk on a wider path so I wouldn’t be caught in the awkward “Do I smile now…no NOW!” dilemma. And I hate to admit it, but I appreciate the Freshmen who are just as awkward as I am and don’t know if they should smile at me or not. Kindred spirits. 

I’m not a Texan, but I like them. There is a certain passionate loyalty to their wide open grass plains, mesquite trees, and heat that is to be admired. Their great-grandfathers fought hard for the land and they passionately protect it. I am more of a mountain and ocean girl with lots of green to greet me, but the most beautiful thing about Texas — thunderstorms. I have never seen such impressive clouds, heard such deafening thunder, or seen such a display of fireworks in they sky. It is stunning. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it. 

Texas has been good to us so far, and I’m sure it will continue to be. It may not have been my first choice of location, but if I’ve learned one thing through my travels it’s that there is something beautiful and special about every place you go. To be happy in the desert you must find the flowers. 

The thunderstorms and, most importantly, the people are my Texas flowers. Stunning.  

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Wings

When you marry a pilot, you marry his love of flying. That means pointing out airplanes you see in the sky, because if he found out you saw it and didn’t tell him, he’ll be sad and wonder what other cool things you’ve made him miss. It means waking up early on a Saturday to go to a grass strip and fly tail draggers and spending the rest of the day remembering how fun it was. And it means, that his day job isn’t always in the daytime and when I hear that deep rumble of the B-1 Bomber taking off, I know that my man is once again in the air, where he loves to be. That is what marrying my kind of pilot means. And I love it.

While my husband loves all things with wings, I’ll be quite honest here and say that  flying small planes makes me woozy. I spend the flight hanging on to the seat in front of me and trying to look at the horizon. I squeeze out a smile when my man looks back at me with his “Isn’t this the greatest experience of your whole life?” smile. While I don’t mind flying, and I think it’s quite beautiful, the swaying is my Achilles heel. So, after our last bumpy flight I had to break it to my wonderful husband that flying, at least in light aircraft, just might not be my thing. And before he could say “That’s the meanest thing you’ve ever said to me!” (his heart is airplane shaped, one must tread carefully) I said “BUT, I would love to photograph you flying and then you can have pictures of all the wonderful planes you’ve flown!” That perked him up again and he said “Okay I like that.” and after a moment, “But we should try flying again when it isn’t so bumpy…” I smiled and put my head back. I love my pilot.

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The Starbucks Connection

Starbucks has a special place in my heart, but not for the reasons you might think. I will admit it took me about three years to stop saying “We” when referring to Starbucks — yes, I was a Starbucks employee, and a good one to boot! But their overpriced coffee and “anyway you like it” mind-set isn’t what makes my heart warm at the sound or sight of Starbucks. It’s simply that whenever I see a Starbucks it reminds me of my three best friends.

Ellyn, Tamara & Tiffany all came into my life in high school (well Ellyn and I met as Brownies, but we’ll leave those stories for later). Ellyn was the “glue that binds” so to speak, and we all formed friendships with each other through her. Little did I know at the time that these three women would be the solid, immovable friends that would carry me through life’s highs and lows.

In high school and then into college we spent HOURS at Starbucks. It wasn’t uncommon for us to sit there for four hours, chatting about life, discussing where we thought we would be in 5 or 10 years, and digging into each other’s lives in a way that we’d let few others do. These are the women that would answer my call in the middle of the night and just listen (don’t know if I ever did that, but I’m sure they would pick up if I did), they are the ones that can take a genuine look into my life and ask “Are you really okay?” The best friends stick by you no matter what — they know that when all is said and done you are FOR them, and that’s what counts. Even when we mess up and hurt each other, we know that after it’s all sorted out we will be just as close as before, if not more. I know, because we’ve been through it.

Now, many years after high school (no need to specify how many), we are living in three different states, some of us have babies (just one of us really, but we’re all quite proud) we still talk, not as frequently as we’d like, and we still share our lives, the big and small events. We know that three other people in this world are FOR us and FOR each other. We know that we’ll always have those hours at Starbucks together, and we know the beauty, the blessing and the incredible honor of having not one, but three best friends.

Thank you Starbucks, for letting us sit in your chairs for hours at a time — it changed our lives.

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