Words that Sting and Mall Therapy

There are few things that can sting my heart so badly but attack my mental capacity or pressure me about wedding plans and unfortunately you have me in a bad spot.

My practice of marking things to spam has helped me greatly but admittedly, I am still shaking off these words.

You see, my parents had a family friend stay with them and in the course of us interacting while they were here, she spoke few things to me and the few that she did were obsessed with me being married.

I was there the night she and her son arrived. She found a moment and called me to sit down at the table and asked me, “So do you have any good news?”

I may not always pick up on social cues but I definitely knew where this question was directed. However, not wanting to cause a scene and having something exciting to share, I proceeded. “Yes actually! I got a raise and title promotion at work! I’m now the media director at my company.”

Her response? A scoff and half-hearted muttered “Oh.” And that was the end of that. No more questions, no more conversation.

The next evening I was hanging out with them again and my brother, his wife, and baby were also there. We were sitting on the floor watching Kai crawl [a new and still cutely awkward crawl!] around.  She asks me, “When is the big day?” Half shocked, half speechless, I asked her what big day. She told me, “Oh you know.” I told her flat out I didn’t. That’s when instead of dropping it, she decided to respond with. “Look at your brother. He’s already married and has a baby.”

Ouch. Instead of taking my chance to stop the convo, you end it with comparing my achievements (or lack thereof in her book) to my brother’s.

It hurts because everywhere I turn people are ASKING me that question. And while I know many of them are just genuinely curious, it’s really hard on my emotions. And when I keep it short they always ask me if my boyfriend has sat down with me and discussed it and how far we’ve worked on getting to that point. That part is complicated. Would I like to be married soonish? Uh…why do you think it hurts so much? But is that even practical right now? Not even. And even though I have no hard or jealous feelings towards my brother and his little family, the fact that he has one has made it OPEN SEASON for people who know my family. It’s like Nate is A, therefore I am B.

All that to say, still sore and wounded, I turned to my favorite pastime for therapy – shopping. I went straight to the mall after work, partly to make a return, and mostly to get lost in the noise.

The Laura of two years ago would have scavenged the racks looking for every deal in existence. The Laura of two years ago would have tried on anything relatively in her size and bought half of it. But I’m not her, and that surprised me in a very nice way. I had a mental list of shops I wanted to go to and once I got to the mall I didn’t feel the need to go into most of them. I mostly browsed and breathed in the bustle and the diverse languages and sounds and smells [because PTL I can smell right now!]. I got the most satisfaction going into Sephora and sniffing all the perfumes I hadn’t been able to before. I bought one shirt, one necklace, and ate a comforting bowl of poke salad and my heart was content in that.

A Late Bloomer, A Once Dormant Seed

Do I know myself? 

The obvious answer is, “Who could know you better?”

As easy and sufficient as a yes could be, the truthful answer is, “I’m still getting there.”

I am a late bloomer in the sense that I have only spent a handful of years searching, discovering and asserting things that makes me essentially Laura.

As a person pleaser, it has taken me YEARS to be open, honest, and consider MY feelings being of equal importance. The idea of taking and giving is hard for me. I have a hard time opening up but I want to speak up when needed and know it’s okay. I have the right to voice my opinions. I have the right to communicate my feelings even if they won’t be well received. It always shocks me when I do speak up how much I audibly needed to hear it.

As a goody two shoe growing up in a highly conservative and religious environment, I held back so much of myself trying to fit a mold. I love Jesus. I also love secular music, fantasy and supernatural movies, all types of art, and don’t always see things as black and white. And others don’t fit the mold so well either, but I didn’t honestly know that because we, myself included, were so bent on seeming perfect. I hid all the parts of me I thought were weird or that others wouldn’t like. The truth is despite scoffing at legalism, it was a cloud that hung low and was always on my mind. Shaking off that fog has been GREAT for my faith. I want to be real with people.

I’ve only diversified, traveled, and encouraged my own thinking since about 23. My bubble growing up was pretty tiny. I’m naturally introverted and have always been a family girl and homebody. I grew up with both parents working and they never made it a big deal to set up play dates or whatnot. My brother actively sought out friends and hangouts, but I was quiet and internalized my loneliness. How could they know I wanted more if I never said anything? I kind of settled. I was group bullied by girls in my 4th grade class and physically abused by a guy in public school that threatened to kill me if I ratted him out and in hindsight, should have had some counseling. I was removed from public school and homeschooled, which was a great opportunity, but I also carried a bitterness and apathy from those experiences. People betrayed, people hurt me, people weren’t worth investing it. So I shut almost everyone out. It took some unwavering friends and leaning on my faith to get me out of that pit. I had to figure out that others were also hurting and that I couldn’t show Jesus’ love with that attitude. I had to invest in people even if it was hard.

As a teen and young adult, I never really said yes to socializing events/self-building opportunities. I also wasted too much time using what opportunities I had going to malls with people instead of really talking deeply with them and rooting our relationships. It wasn’t until the latter half of my college career that I was in an area that wasn’t predominantly white. I enriched myself in different cultures by getting to know students of other nationalities and through college classes. I realized there was so much more. As my friends moved away, I slowly started taking solo flights and losing the anxiety of being alone in a new space. At 25, I moved out and liberated myself with the idea of being self-sufficient. I finally found a new home church around 26 and a church body that was what I needed. At the end of 27, I realized stuff and clutter was dragging me down and now I am more mindful of who I am and what I need physically and mentally.

– I’ve grown to love myself and take me as I am. With mindfulness and the body positivity movement and embracing feminism, I am more aware and accepting of myself. Yes, I am fat – I’m not longer scared of that word or what it means. It doesn’t hold power over everything else I am, and I have a lot more than pounds to offer. I’ve realized that even though I don’t feel able, I have so much potential and it is worth it to try and take risks.

There are some people in their late teens/early twenties that I look at and think, “Wow, I wish I was that self-aware at their age.” But I know I’m not the only late bloomer. There are many of us, and rather than looking at years wasted or not given their full potential, we should celebrate that our petals have opened, and we have so much more to see and to be.

Yes, I was dormant: I was a seed waiting for the right conditions to sprout. And I have sprouted. And I am growing.

A Local Friend

One of my heart cries the last few years has been for a local friend.

I want to say that carefully…because I do have solid friends around me, but they are either a lengthy drive away, or are super close in proximity but more of an acquaintance. I don’t want to hurt anyone but the absolute truth is, I don’t have someone I’d consider a very close friend in town.

There is something special about having a local someone who will be there for you at the drop of a pin, who makes you a priority, and who is good for the soul. Someone you also want to invest in and love on and encourage. A person to grab coffee with. To wind down with. To remind you to reach for your dreams or be honest enough to say hard things to you when you’re wrong…

I can’t remember how many times I’ve asked for this kind of friend in my prayers. Someone who is fun and has big dreams so we can feed off each other’s inspirations and help each other out. Someone who loves the Lord too so I can get some much needed spiritual encouragement as well. A person who isn’t afraid of the good and bad sides and takes me as me.

And I think God has given me that friend.

We’ve only spent a little bit of time together but I see us really connecting. She is very different than me – loud, energetic, quickly ready to take anything on, and animated. I am gentle, relaxed, somewhat hesitant but headstrong, and quiet. I’m not used to having a buddy whose voice echoes throughout the whole restaurant when we’re chatting over lunch. I’m not sure how to handle her umpteenth offer for us to spar at the local martial arts studio. I don’t say this negatively, but I’m also not used to someone as dramatic. Conversely she must also be practicing patience with me as I open up very slowly and like to think before I do.

I love that she is always up for adventure and trying new things. That is something we both love. I also adore that while we might not agree on everything doctrinally, we both are believers. She has a big heart and is involved in missions and charity projects. We are also similar in wanting to help and spread kindness. So I think the parts where we are different are good for me. And I hope I can also be good for her.

Ignoring Ignorance. Choosing to Love.

First of all – my ultrasound results for my legs came back negative for a circulation issue. That’s a big praise report! I still have no idea what is causing my issues but I think it NOT being blood clot or circulation related is a definite positive.

With some of the health issues of late, I’ve gotten constant reminders, not from doctors but my mom, to lose weight. She loves to chime in with “maybe your problems would go away if you just lost X pounds.” (Yes, there is some potential truth to that) She also drives me batty because she’s one of those people who watches infomercials and thinks it or what Dr. Oz has to say will be magical for me. “I’ll buy you this 30 day fix.” “Dr. Oz says to lose weight you should…”

Most recently I showed her passport photos I got done. My hair was down but placed behind my shoulders. The camera angle was rather unflattering because it was angled slightly up instead of straight on. I showed it to her to let her know I was proactively working on getting my passport ready but her first response was, “Did they tell you to put your hair back like that? It’s better in front of your face.” Without being direct, she hinted that my moon-shaped face looked slimmer and more flattering with hair covering the sides and elongating.

My aunt who lives in town was over a while back and I was a little more done up that usual in a dress and wearing makeup for church. Before she left she grabbed my face and told me how beautiful it was. She said if I could lose weight I’d have a beautiful body to go with it. She tried to encourage me with her double sided words, assuring me that some people have a nice body but can’t change their face, but I had the face and my body can change.

I’m still surprised I made it through teen-hood and my early twenties without an eating disorder. I don’t mean that flippantly. I’m serious. My family and extended family have been my worst offenders throughout my life. I still remember the holiday I locked myself in my bedroom after my uncle offered to give me $1/lb that I lost. I thought “wow, I cost less than steak per pound. My total worth is about $220.”

Why am I bringing this up? Because I could be very bitter and hate these family members for their words. Instead, I choose to forgive their ignorance and ignore their implications. I am more comfortable with who I am than ever although I do wish to lose weight. And their hurtful comments are now easy to shake off because I know I don’t need to process their unfiltered nonsense.

I wrote about sending comments to spam here. It’s been a life changing way of dealing with negativity and unsolicited comments. I can be conscious of my present state and plan of action without letting the thoughts of others invade my feelings.

I’m changing for me. No one else.

Unroll.me: The Purger and Merger

Sometimes I feel like I live under a rock. Like, didn’t sign up for spotify until the end of last year type of rock.

It’s no surprise that with my fossilized tech sense of living that I also just used unroll.me for the first time ever. And goodness, is it awesome.

You go to the site, then allow it access to your contacts and sign into your email account. Then, magic happens. And if you’re drowning in junk mail like me, this might take a couple minutes.

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There is one catch. They let you unsubscribe from about 10ish things and then tell you to share it to be able to unsub to more. I just shared it privately to my FB and voila. All the unsubs.

Look at that number! I am a worm! I used to shop in person and online A LOT. And what do they do at checkout? Ask you for your email.

It also had blogger subscriptions which makes it easy to clean up blog subs from multiple places like blogger and wordpress. I mostly kept my blog subs but there were a few style/beauty ones I said adios to.

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Step one. I cleared out 57 my first attempt and then realized I had no idea what rolling up emails meant.

Round 2:

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I looked in the FAQ and rolled up emails means instead of getting 80 things you can get them all in one place merged in one email. I rolled up most of my shopping subs, art/event subs, concert subs, and etcetera emails and went from a cleaned up 97 emails to 43 kept in inbox. Glorious.

Here’s what I didn’t roll up:

– My blog subs I love and want to know about ASAP or be able to read via email.
– My top 5 shopping spots only because I do appreciate knowing what’s in season there and getting those quick sale codes when offered. Because 50-75% is amazing. With stuff I’ve already planned to buy, anyway. Not to impulse shop(at least, not as much as before).
– Anything related to banking/medical/bills

It’s a life changer.

While I keep a very uncluttered new email account, I still like holding on to my old one for sales posts and blog subs. It helps me separate things. I like that with the rolled up email I can still keep my retail subs from pertinent places without being tempted to look at them unless I need them. And that my inbox won’t get 30+ emails a day from mindless sources.

The Silence is Dumbing

There are days where I clock in and clock out and in those 8 hours have never spoken a word.

There are days where the only dialogue I get outside of my house is the total charged for my groceries.

There are days I spill my guts through texts and emails because that’s the only outlet I have.

I feel like my conversational skills have atrophied and when I open my mouth, I am clueless on how to share what I’m thinking or don’t even know what to say. As my mouth moves, my brain cringes at the vomit I half-heartedly conjured.

I feel like sometimes I disregard my feelings because it’s too hard to accurately portray them. Or I don’t sufficiently give my cause. And I hate that, because those are the only swords I have that convey mental capacity and tenacity.

I feel like my vocabulary and thoughts only work on paper or typed out from a keyboard.

One of the compliments I have often genuinely received from others is that I’m a good listener. I wish I could equally project myself and cultivate my speaking ability to match my propensity to listen.

I do enjoy listening. But I also want to be heard.

“We Did It Again!”

Home Alone 2 was a staple in my home growing up. If I had to describe my dad’s favorite movies to you growing up it would be “Christmas movies and James Bond.” I’m pretty sure the James Bond part is out the window now, especially as the R rating becomes more scandalous in nature, and it is now “Christmas Movies and Netflix War Documentaries and the occasional reality series about something boring like Ice Road Drivers.”

All that to say, the infamous line of Home Alone 2 is “We did it again!” Kevin’s parents look at each other in distress and mirror each other’s words in bewilderment.

I’m kind of there, but in a different way. And I think anyone not living up to their goals/NYR might be feeling the same. Sometimes we’re creatures of habit or find ourselves repeating things we wish we didn’t.

For me that is being too busy.

I grew up in a very close knit church. It was kind of expected that you were heavily involved and helped out. I love being a part of ministry. But now I don’t feel compelled to volunteer out of guilt or because I’m afraid no one else will step up. That being said, maybe I still feel compulsive sometimes. I can carve out an hour for X can’t I?  [The answer is no, Laura!]

I also hid myself in academics growing up because I was awkward and felt that if I couldn’t keep a conversation or make friends easily at least I could use facts and mental capacity to help. This mostly meant someone with average or slightly better than average tried to get straight A’s because I’m no genius. And it stopped working after college anyway. But there is still this echo of needing to better myself mentally or build new skills. Sometimes healthy, sometimes consuming.

Anyways. Being busy is how I defined myself for years. It’s something hard for me to shake. And now as January wraps up I can see things heaping up in my arms already.

I’m not sure what balance looks like but this week was

Mon – Date night
Tues – Bible Study
Wed – Seminar
Thurs – Non-profit Meeting/ Non prof work
Fri – Art Lesson

I think the earliest I got home/relaxed any of those nights was 8:30pm. And that’s after putting in 8+ hours at my job. This is why I might be kinda nuts.

It wouldn’t be so bad if I was super organized, but I’m not there yet. My Wednesdays will open up after the series of seminars is over, but I know I’ll be craving something to fill the spot. And that’s why I need to tell myself to calm down.

I’m looking at this super full week and how I feel right now and how this is too much and filing it for when I get a crazy notion that I need to do more. Finding balance is taking me a while.

Double Whammy: When good times and bad times share the same date.

This Sunday was Josh and my dating anniversary. It was also my Uncle Norman’s birthday. His first one since he passed last year. Of course it doesn’t mean anything to him anymore in heaven, but to his family and friends that are still here? I miss him and know my aunt is going through a rough patch right now as she is coping. Yesterday was pouring rain and she didn’t even make it to church. She was home alone on a gloomy weather day, mourning her husband. That got me as I empathized with her. Josh took me to a yummy restaurant for dinner that evening and ended the night with a surprise movie date where it was just us, a big screen, and a pint of ice cream to share between the two of us. There were feelings of great sadness and great happiness yesterday.

Last year on my birthday I had one of the hardest birthdays I’ve ever had to face. Josh had just surprised me and taken me out to lunch on my lunch break and dropped me back at work. The phone rang about 30 minutes later and my brother informed me if I wanted to say goodbye to my uncle I better go to the hospital now. I cried so much throughout that day. And I was there, emotionally distraught, until the wee hours of the next morning when my Uncle drew his last gasping breath. I am wholeheartedly thankful for that opportunity. To bond even deeper with my cousins and aunt and my family as we drew strength from each other to make it through this very hard goodbye. To let my Uncle know, however lucid he was, that all of us were there. But I know without a doubt that my birthday this year will be hard to celebrate. It’s also marks my last year of being in my 20’s. And it’s a sad reminder that I have no close local friends to celebrate it with. My closest friends are scattered hours or days drives away from me.

I probably sound like I’m throwing myself a big pity party, but really, I am just a deeply emotional person conflicted by the happiness and sadness of life contrasted by loss.

Pottermore – Something Light for a Change

Here’s something light for a change: my nerdy side.

I am a big fan of art and literature and as immature as it may sound, I truly appreciate Young Adult fiction. Not because it suits my reading level (although it’s probably closer to it, ha!) but because it usually explores some really big themes in life that make me think outside the box and also carries an element of fun.

One of the series I truly enjoy is Harry Potter. I’ve got to admit I’m not as fanatical as my SIL but I still love it SO SO much. You can tell I’m not a fanatic because up until yesterday, I had not joined Pottermore.

When it first began it was by email invitation only and I felt like I wasn’t worthy? But I’ve always been oddly curious to see what house I’d be sorted into. In real life, I see a lot of my personality fall into Hufflepuff and Slytherin while my intentions lean more towards Ravenclaw.

Out of all the houses, I felt like Griffyndor least-suited me.

And of course, I’ve officially sorted into Griffyndor. I scratched my head a lot little and went on to take the Ilvermorny sorting and got Thunderbird. 2/2.

I was so confused. How could that be? And that’s when I thought of the dichotomy of perception vs. intention.

My perception of self is mostly Hufflepuff/Slytherin. However, if I honestly search myself, I am working/wanting many of the qualities of Gryffindor.

If I look far enough back, I can remember wanting to be something great as a kid, being a “fearless leader/instigator” as the eldest of the cousin pack on my mom’s side, and now as an adult, willing to sacrifice comfort/goods/wants for the greater good, and wanting to discover new things and my intrinsic craving for new experiences. The brave and devil-may-care attitude? Not so much. But in that hindsight, I can now pride myself as a Griffyndor.

It’s a good little tidbit for 2017, I think. This whole perception vs. intention. I think it will help me discover more about myself that I didn’t know but had assumed.

What house(s) were you sorted into and how do you identify with it? I am super curious!

Because Believers Contemplate Suicide Too

Please read this/share this/save this if it is on your heart.

Before you ask, let me clear the air and say I’m not suicidal. However if I’m completely honest, I can say thoughts have run through my head that I wish hadn’t about my worth, my life, my purpose, etc.

The truth is being a Christian doesn’t mean we are immune to depression, suicidal thoughts, and self-harm. We struggle like everyone else, regardless of belief.

But when it comes to reaching out? Sometimes we feel we should conceal how we feel or be silent. Please don’t. We have a God who loves us beyond what our human hearts can measure. And He has placed people and resources in your life to reach out to.

http://micahjmurray.com/to-the-christian-contemplating-suicide/