Sunday, September 30, 2012

31 Cups of Tea

One of the blogs I follow (The Reluctant Sojourner) is participating in a 31 Day Challenge hosted by The Nester. The idea intrigued me so I decided to participate as well. It fits in perfectly with my goal of spending time every day with Christ. So my 31 days is...

Each day, I will spend time in the Word (preferably in the morning BEFORE work but I'm realistic and I know that's not likely to happen every day). I'll write here about what I read and any other insights or growths in my relationship with my Saviour. Well, if I want any chance at waking up and spending time with Him before work, I ought to get to sleep. I also have at least four different entries rattling around in my brain that need to get written...

P.S. I'd just like to note that the graphic above? Totally made by me. I created it from a picture I took last fall using GIMP. It might be very simple for some but it's awesome for me.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Stages of Time Zone Differences

There's a change that happens when you're living a couple of time zones away from home. For the first two weeks or so, you calculate almost constantly what time it is for your family and friends. You know that it's mid afternoon for them when you're having your European timed dinner and that some of them are going to bed when you're getting up in the morning.

After that, you can very easily calculate the time change and you do it at least once a day just because. You'll sit down to lunch and think, "I bet so and so is getting up right about now". It has no impact on your activities but you calculate it anyhow. This stage lasts another several weeks slowly fading into the next.
Next comes calculating the time change only when it impacts what you're doing. You send a text and think "Oh crap. She's still asleep." Or you try to find a time to Skype with him and need to find sometime he'll be awake and not at work that's not ridiculously late for you. This is the longest stage so far.

Then one morning, you wake up and realize you're not sure if the time change is five or six hours. You've lost track. And it's strange.

This morning I entered that last stage. It's a stage I never encountered in London. In London, my heart was firmly planted in Western NY so losing track of the time change would have been devastating. And London also didn't last this long. Every day that I'm here is one day longer on my "longest time from home" chart. (No, I don't really have such a chart.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Metamorphosis in Retrospect

As I'm reading through my old entries, skimming different journals and reminiscing (and thinking that I ought to go to sleep!), I'm trying to remember that girl. The entries are mostly from when I was about 15. During January of 2005, I posted 90 different entries in one journal. True several of them are surveys and questionnaires but that's still a lot of writing. Do you know what I'm realizing?

I've grown up.

My writer's voice has matured. I've gone from this: 
"Ever seen One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest? Preformed by high schoolers? Damn good high schoolers? [Note: Opps! I said I wouldn't say the damn word again today. Well, I wrote this last night.] Good friends of yours? I have! Tonight. Murph and Jake. I'm crashing now but that was amazing! Jake shaved his head! As did Murph! Eyes won'te let me write more as energy is too low to keep open and move pen at same time. Will write more tomorrow. Great job, boys!

I'm now sitting here, bored, in German. The play was great. Jake wasn't a crazy person. *pouts* He should've been. He's nuts. Murph was the "head goose looney". I'm serious. And he's "quite good at palm reading". He was Dale Harding for those of you who know the play. It was a great play. Jake got lifted in the air by Chief Bromden and let out this huge yell. The theater cracked up with laughter. I was laughing well into the next scene. It was hilarious!" [Taken from here]

That sounds exactly like I was fifteen and talking to my friends at school. I wrote exactly as I spoke back then and I may have been fairly mature but I was still a teenager with a teenager's habits. Now I may still be young but I have matured. I don't write exactly as I speak but it's also not stuffy formal academic language. I don't try to impose my sarcasm on my journal and the inside jokes that peppered my old entries are mostly missing from my newer ones. Which is, frankly, good because I don't remember most of those inside jokes seven years later. How did the friends I made in that community ever understand me? I wrote as if everyone already knew what was going on in my life and understood me and my sense of humor before I wrote. And I wrote as if I had an audience from Day One. 

Dear 14 year old Vickey,
Just because you're posting in a community doesn't mean that people have found you and started to read you yet.
Your older, wiser self.

I also don't pre-write my entries anymore. I might write them in Word while I don't have internet access but it's not on paper while I'm doing other things. Part of that is because I'm not in school anymore but another part of that is just the frame of mind I'm in. Blogging is a part of my life; it is not my whole life. Back then, it basically was. I was writing every day, multiple times. (As the 3x/day average from January 2005 shows...) It was my only real activity outside of school. I know that this blog has an audience (I can see how many pageviews I get a day) but (a) no one comments and (b) I'm not writing FOR my audience. I'm writing for myself, to keep a record, to grow, to help me understand myself and my life more fully. The audience is secondary. Most of the time when I write, the fact that others will read this doesn't factor in much. I just write what needs said. In that way, I think this is more authentic. It reflects what's truly in my heart.

Mind you, from the extremes that I was writing about, my heart was reflected in plenty of my entries from A Moment that is Mine. My emotions were so intense. I find it difficult now, just a few years later, to remember how strongly I felt about everything. Now, I do know that I've dealt with mental illness most of my life. (A normal twelve year old does not contemplate suicide. That is the result of depression.) But at that point in my life I was so convinced that I was bipolar because my emotions were so strong and were so all over the place. I no longer believe that I am. I think these extremes were heightened because of the mental illnesses I do have but that they were for the most part normal.

At fifteen, I was dealing with some very big issues. My life was not simple. I had no idea who I wanted to be or what I wanted to do in life. I was so young. I was such a baby in so many ways. Everything was still fairly new. Love was definitely new, as my entries questioning what love is and if I was in love can prove. Now I clearly know that I did not love any of my crushes. Jon was my first taste at love. He's my childhood sweetheart and nothing can change that. He's the one who first really awakened any sense of sexual desire in me. One thing I do miss from that period in life is just how deeply I could feel and could crush. It does certainly mean the potential to be hurt more or hurt easier but how often do we open ourselves up that much? I got so used to having one person, someone I was committed to. I think I've forgotten how to flirt or how to find someone. But then I never was good at that. Ron and I fell together. I was so so passionate back then about the guys I liked. I wrote poetry about them. I got nervous and got butterflies and I worried and fretted and planned. Oh heavens did I plan. One guy in particular who I went to youth group with I was crazy for him. And looking back there are several characteristics he had and still has that I definitely want in my husband. For starters this boy was on fire for Christ. And I don't know why or when that became unimportant to me, when that got shoved to the back burner. How was that acceptable?

Back to those big issues though. I was struggling with wanting to hurt myself. I, thankfully, never got to the point of a cold metal razor against my skin and I never drew more than a few drops of blood all put together. I have no scars physically and few people if any would know that I've hurt myself seeking relief of emotional pain if I hadn't told them. This struggle is not one that I'm secretive about. If it's relevant to the conversation, then I am willing to share. If there is a stigma around this issue, I don't pay attention to it. It's just a part of who I am. I have sat bawling my eyes out digging my nails into the delicate flesh on my arms. I've turned against myself and let the second longest lasting relationship I'll ever have turn sour (the longest lasting relationship being that with the Creator who knew me before He knit me together in my mother's womb and who I will someday worship unendingly). It was a nearly daily fight not to commit an act of violence against myself. And true to the pattern my life has always followed, the only thing that saved me in the end? The grace of G-d. It was through a week at Circle C Ranch (a Christian camp) that I managed to stop doing this.

I also was debating moving in with my mom at the time. Now I can look back and know that would not have been a stable enough environment for me. I would never have gone to that week at Circle C and may have graduated to more intense means of self-harm than scraping my nails against my arms and legs. (I had already begun banging my head against the wall over and over again. How much farther was a razor away?) I would not have dated Ron. That relationship taught me so much. Some of those lessons were things I should have already known (like that my future husband must be a Christian for it to work among many many others) but some things are fairly new (like just how important it is to be that my husband also be fairly touchy physically). I may not have gone to Houghton since I found out about it through Circle C where I probably would not have gone. I wouldn't have some of the amazing friends that I do. I don't know where I would be in my life if I had moved down there but considering that I like who I am now, I wouldn't want to go back and change my decision against moving.

My life has changed so much since those angst filled pre-medicated days. I was so terribly dramatic and so terribly alone in many ways. I was very lucky to find a few good friends, both online through AOLJournals (B, Sara Smiles, and Madman are the ones that stick out to my mind even now) and through college. Between the words of support I got on my journals, the encouragement to find G-d and draw close to Him, the examples of my roommate/housemates/good friends at Houghton, and the love I found over the years, I've gotten through some rather ridiculous things in my life, things I thought at the time would crush me. Here I sit though at 22 years old nearly 4000 miles away from home, no physical scars of note, having survived a broken heart, a battle against myself, a change of majors after 5 semesters, and puberty. I am not crushed. I have survived and persevered. I have not done it alone but I don't know if I would realize what a different person I've become if not for having found and reread my old journals in part.

If you're curious, a list of most of my old blogs can be found here.

Monday, September 24, 2012


I had a glimpse this afternoon of my future. I had just finished baking brownies with the girls and they were cooling on the table (the brownies, not the girls). Nuria had fallen asleep on my lap while playing with my iPod. Without a tear, a whine, or a noise. She simply fell asleep with her head leaned against my chest and my iPod in her hand. It was the most precious thing. I'd laid her down in the bed for a nap, unsure of how long she would sleep (the answer? Almost three hours with one slight break in the middle to nurse from her mama). Yael was playing an educational coloring game on an iPad, (learning colors, how to follow directions, and using her English words) and Noemi got out her homework to get started on her own. I had my laptop in front of me with Pandora playing quietly, the kitchen was pretty well cleaned up, and I checked my e-mail quickly between looking at Noemi's progress practicing her 5's. I had an email announcing a new post on a blog I started following. A mommy blog. A Christian homeschooling mommy blog. I clicked the link, scanned the page, and shut my laptop, this post starting to form in my head.

These girls are not my daughters, no matter how often they accidentally call me Mama. I don't have to spend all day taking care of them, I get breaks. During my break today I took a nice long hot shower with rose scented body oil. This is one of those things that a SAHM probably wouldn't have time for. Certainly not in the middle of the day. (And let me tell you it was wonderful. It was exactly what I needed.) I absolutely love that Nuria's favorite toy is my iPod. I won't let her walk away with it so it means she has to sit on my lap. What torture for me, right? I adore that Noemi wants me to draw her tattoos. And the way Ellie curls into me when she's crying, though I hate that she's upset, melts my heart. Every night, just about, I get called to bedtime duty. "Vickey, will you throw me in bed?" Magic word? "Please!? Swinging around?" I love that the girls turn to me for that. Right now, they're basically my world. Someday, though I hope to still be in contact with this family, I will have a family of my own. And it will be my babies asking Mama for another story before bed or to have a tattoo like Mama has (and if Mama has anything to say about it like Papa has too! :P).

This afternoon, I was completely at peace. No, being a mother won't be easy. I don't think it will all be rainbows and butterflies. There will be times when my three year old is the one crying and I can't understand her between sobs or help her calm down. There will be nights when the baby just won't go to sleep. There will be arguments over if something is fair or not and there will be headaches. Long showers may not happen. They may be more like five minute quick get clean and get out showers and it'll be a miracle if my legs get shaved. But that's okay. I know that my calling in this life is to have children, to be a mother. And one of the big differences between my situation now and then? I'll have a husband to be there with me and to support me. Together we will handle things. The screaming toddler may be mine to handle but after all the kids are in bed even if for only five minutes, I will get to turn to my husband and take comfort in the fact that he is there to back up my rules, to be my rock. I can melt into his arms and realize that no matter how crazy the day, I have a husband who loves me, wonderful-if sometimes insane-children, and I am blessed. I will still need some alone time, I will still cherish those times I get to take a long shower or sit with a delicious cup of coffee by myself or with a book. I will still need breaks from my kids too. I think every mother does. But I know also that my life will always be chaotic but it will be mine and I will always be so blessed.

In the last two years, my future has changed so much. I've lost my fiance, I've changed from a degree that allows a straightforward answer to the question "What do you hope to do?" to a degree where that answer is "I could do almost anything with this degree..." But I've grown closer to G-d as well. I don't know much about my future but moments like this afternoon help me remember that I am on the right path and that He does know. Someday it will be my baby taking a nap, my toddler playing nicely on her own, and my "school kid" working on her homework. And I will take a moment and breathe deeply and thank my Heavenly Father for the blessings He has given me and for the (rare) moment of quiet and order in a life that is bound to be relatively complicated.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

And to wrap it all up...

29. What do you think people misunderstand most about you?
I think people misunderstand my sense of humor the most. I'm very sarcastic and sometimes dark. My jokes don't always sound like jokes when people aren't familiar with me. This has lead to many fights between me and my stepfamily as they've grown to understand me. It doesn't happen as much anymore but it does happen still.

30. List 10 things you would hope to be remembered for.
The following items may not currently be true or may only be partially true but they are things I hope to work on and to come to be remembered for.
I) For my love despite disagreeing with choices those around me may make.
II) For my devotion to my family.
III) For being a light unto the world in a way which points others to Jesus without offending unnecessarily.
IV) For the stable presence I try to be for my younger siblings.
V) For the ministry G-d will lead me to, whatever that is.
VI) For overcoming my depression and anxiety and not allowing it to control me.
VII) For being self-confident and comfortable in my own skin.
VIII) For having class and style (not necessarily all about fashion).
IX) For raising children who follow G-d and who are able to cope with the craziness that life brings.
X) For being a godly woman who fulfills her roles in life as best she's able.

This brings 30 Things to a close. Just a reminder that I got these questions from 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dinner, Popular=/=Right, Body, Language

25. If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be and what would you eat?
I would choose to have dinner with Joan of Arc. I find her very interesting and, assuming that we were able to speak the same language, would love to ask her if she really spoke to G-d and to judge for myself if she was nuts or just beyond her time. And I'd choose the salmon with Asian inspired glaze from Boston's along with a grilled portabello mushroom topped with cream spinach and a rice side dish. (Combined menu from two of my favorite restaurant meals in the last year or two.)

26. What popular notion do you think the world has most wrong?
The world doesn't realize it needs Christ. That He came not to condemn them or to restrict their fun but to save them from death, from sin, from guilt and from the bondage that Satan tries to put us in. He came to free us and in Him we may sacrifice getting drunk on Friday night (something we want to do now) but we gain a fuller understanding of our identity in Christ and grow closer to our Heavenly Father (something we should want more).

27. What is your favorite part of your body and why?
My favorite part of my body are my shoulders. I don't really know why. I love when they get a little bit sunburnt (so they're warm but not too painful) and I love off the shoulder type shirts.

28. What is your love language?
Though I haven't read the book, my love language is touch. I'm a very touchy person. Even from the time I was very young, I've always been comforted by touch. I got tucked in by being practically smothered with four layers of a blanket I call fuzz. I got kisses and hugs and cuddled with my parents. Until I was 13 I always had a cat to call my own that often slept with me and if I was upset, Smokey was one of my first lines of defense. Now that I'm a "grown-up", I still need that physical contact. Honestly, without it, I feel like I'm going crazy. I need to be held sometimes, I need to feel safe and to have that touch. When I go long enough without it, my "touch tank" is empty and I start to get anxious and depressed. I also tend to start thinking about guys more when I'm running low. Having shared a bed with someone I loved for a good chunk of time, I miss falling asleep in someone's arms. I always sleep better when I've got someone to keep me safe. I must have been held a lot as a baby, especially when I was falling asleep.

24/30: Family Dynamics

24. Describe your family dynamic of your childhood vs. your family dynamic now.
When I was very little, my parents were happy. We were that perfect nuclear family. Mom, dad, two kids, two (and then three) cats. We lived right above my Gramma and my Gumpy and I still remember staying over there at night. Feeding the fish and drawing on butcher paper with Gramma, playing dots with Gumpy after he rubbed his stubbly face against me making me squeal. My brother is four years my junior and that means we didn't really play together much but that I was pretty good at convincing him to let me be the boss. I was a very bossy child. When I was 7, we moved to a new house. About a year later, I remember my parents fighting. I think I just sort of blocked out any fights they had before that or they were better at hiding it from me before. It got to the point that, precocious 8 year old that I was, I told my parents to just get it over with and get divorced. Now, I can't imagine how much it must have hurt them to hear that come from their firstborn's mouth. My brother and I also started to fight as we got older and he was less a ball of baby fat for me to boss around and more of a boy with his own ideas. My parents had this idea that if they bought him Ken dolls and me Barbie's then I would have to play with him. Nope. I just asked him if I could use them. They underestimated me I think with that one.
After a brief period when my dad moved out, Mom found out she was pregnant and Dad moved back in. When Mom lost the baby, well he couldn't exactly just move out again. The fighting got worse and we lost the house. When we moved to our new town, the fighting between my parents continued to suuuuck and I turned into a bratty pre-teen compounded by the difficulties I was having adjusting. Finally, my parents did divorce but I just got even more hostile. My brother and I were fighting physically and verbally nearly every day. I started fighting with my mom as she dealt with the divorce on her own and I suddenly didn't have the stability I was used to. I thought I'd be happier with my parents divorced but it didn't stop the fighting at first and it just took away the foundation I had before that. When Mom got pregnant with Samantha, I think it re-kicked on her maternal instincts. She couldn't cope with her issues only; she also had to be a mom. And she and I became closer. We were (and still are) more like friends than like a mother/daughter. Now that system works just fine for me. Then, I needed a mom a bit more than I needed another friend. My dad and I, however, fought like mad until I went to college. Even then, on my breaks, we'd fight after a few days. We're just too much alike in some ways. And it's so easy to fall into old habits.
Shortly before I graduated high school, I began my relationship with Ron. No, he's no longer family but my relationship with him really impacted my relationship with my family and not for the better. As I fell head over heels, at first my parents were both very supportive. He treated me wonderfully, we were in love, and he made me happy. Then Ron started to change (and so did I). We weren't the same people. We weren't in love anymore, or at least not as much. He wasn't treating me properly anymore and I wasn't treating him properly either. My dad tried to point this out to me but love is blind, as they say. I refused to listen. It just drove a rift between my dad and I. Plus my dad's attitude towards Ron separated them and made it uncomfortable for Ron and I to be at my house which in turn drove Ron and I farther apart.
When Ron and I split last year, my dad was more supportive than I had imagined. I still haven't heard "I told you so". My dad's love for me in that situation became more apparent than the last few years. His concern over my relationship had seemed like trying to control me and not trying to do what was best for me. His support after the break-up turned that around and I realized that he (and everyone else) had seen in Ron something I hadn't let myself see. In the months between my break-up and my departure to Europe, my dad and I actually managed to have several normal conversations. I've talked to him several times since I've been here and have been realizing (as evidenced by my entries) just what a role he's played in my life.
My mom and I have maintained the friend relationship we developed when I was a teenager. We can talk about absolutely anything and I talk to her most days via text on my iPod. My little sister is basically my whole world and she knows it. She can be a complete brat some days and oh goodness if I hear her whining... but I love her and I'd do anything for her.
During college, my dad moved in with his girlfriend and I've now got two more stepsiblings and a stepmom as well. When there's no alcohol involved, we get along great. Maggie and Charlie are great people and I do enjoy hanging out with them. I don't always agree with the way Charlie behaves or the priorities Maggie sets but the "step" in "stepsiblings" might as well not be there. Charlie is my brother and Maggie is my sister. My little brother, Joey, and I basically don't talk at this point. He's said some very hurtful things to me over the years and we are far too different people. When we're in the same room, we'll talk if he's not in one of those moods but we don't get along or hang out.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Only a Mountain

Jesus said we could move mountains if only we had faith the size of a mustard seed. Why have I never made the connection that a mountain doesn't have to be physical?! Of course the mountains I need to move aren't physical. My mountains are the obstacles in my life. My mountains are my depression, my anxiety, my doubts, my stumbling blocks. My mountains can be moved with faith. I just can't show you my mountain like I can show you Mt. Everest. It's just as real and just as hard to climb sometimes. But I don't have to climb it! I can tell it to move and it'll move. I can tell it to fall and it'll fall!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Rosh Hashanah Revalation

We interrupt your regularly scheduled answers to bring you this post courtesy of G-d's inspiration. Thank you for your understanding.

I'm researching Messianic Judaism again, at the L-rd's prompting. It's almost time for the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) and so I'm looking into it, being sure that if I choose to observe it that I do so according to Biblical instruction and not simply Jewish tradition which may not be based in G-d. It seems odd to many that the New Year would be (a) in the Fall and (b) in the seventh month of the Jewish calendar. According to a page on the website of the temple I've attended in the past (also a messianic temple), part of the rationale for why this occurs is a previous calendar which started the new year in fall according to an agricultural lifestyle and that traditionally Rosh Hashanah is a celebration of the anniversary of Creation. Now, I don't know if that's true or not but I do know that I love that idea. If Creation began on Rosh Hashanah, it began right at the start of the fall. It began when the weather turns a bit chilly and we want to stay home with our family, eat homemade comfort foods, cuddle with our loved ones, and when the leaves start to turn colors. Autumn has always been my favorite season and I think it always will be. (I'm torn between wanting my wedding in early June so I can have lilacs or wanting it in October so we have the beauty of leaves.) I think that G-d must be an Artist. In a few weeks, when the leaves are red and orange and yellow and gold (and don't try to tell me gold and yellow are the same), look out your window. Tell me that the Creator didn't enjoy every moment of designing that landscape. Tell me that He didn't hand paint every leaf you see. Tell me that my G-d isn't amazing. I'll tell you you're wrong. If Rosh Hashanah is the anniversary of Creation, my G-d has been speaking to me longer than I can imagine. Before I was born, He knit me together in my mother's womb and He embedded this sense of wonder at the fall in my soul. Perhaps because that is the start of His year.

In case anyone is curious, Rosh Hashanah is known in the Bible as the Feast of Trumpets. It's mentioned in Leviticus 23:24-5 and Numbers 29:1-6. The Biblical celebration is meant to include a sacrifical offering to the L-rd, a "sacred assembly", "no regular work", and the blowing of the shofar (a horn created from a ram's well horn). It begins the 10 Days of Repentance that lead up to Yom Kippur (known biblically as the Day of Atonement). Traditionally (not Biblical mandates), apples dipped in honey are eaten with challah for wishes for a sweet new year.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The future (?) and hobbies

22. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?
Five years from now I will be 27. If everything goes according to my plan, I'll be married and pregnant with my first child. I'd like to be settled down in a nice town where we feel at home, where I have friends and where we have a life. We have a weekly date night and jobs that we're happy with. We may not have a house yet but we're established. I hope to have been married about two years to my dear husband. We've decorated our apartment in a manner that reflects our taste. Personally, I'll also have a wardrobe that reflects my style. I'll have found an outlet for my creativity and participate regularly. My German skills will be kept up by reading in German and talking to my German family members.
Ten years from now, I'll be 32. My husband and I will have been together for 7 years. Our oldest child will be starting kindergarten and her younger two siblings will be in preschool or still at home with me. By this point, we'll have our own home. Each year we'll take a vacation that will undoubtedly leave us a bit more stressed out but it will be amazing. It'll be Loon Lake with my dad and brother combined with Loon Lake with Ron and Niagara Falls with my parents and Paris with the Inbals and even more than I can imagine. My husband and I will still have our date night but it will be at home after the kids get tucked in most of the time. If we can afford it, we'll get an au pair around this time. Not necessarily because we "need" one but because I want to give back to someone the way I'm being taken care of here. I've had the experience and I've gotten the chance to grow up a bit more and live away from home.
Fifteen years from now, at 37, my oldest child will be in middle school (ten years old). My younger two will be in school as well (at least preschool) and my husband and I will have reached 12 years together. My baby sister will be 24 (which is horrifying!). I honestly cannot think that far ahead. I do know that if my children are in school they won't be a full-time job for me requiring me to stay home. I hope to have some sort of an occupation but I don't know what. Maybe I'll have a day care. Maybe I'll be a photographer. Maybe I'll be a writer. I honestly don't know.

23. List your top 5 hobbies and why you love them.
In no particular order...
A) I enjoy cross stitching. It's relaxing and at the end of it, I get a pretty decoration. :) And it's not that expensive either.
B) I absolutely love reading. I've been doing it since I was three but didn't take the time in college to read for pleasure. This year away, however, I've been clinging to reading like it's a life vest and I'm on the Titanic. I love to escape into a different world, to lose my troubles for a little bit. I get to live more times than humanly possible through my books.
C) My enjoyment of knitting, similar to my enjoyment of cross stitching, is for it's relaxing properties as well as for it's purpose. Knitting gets me useful items that I can enjoy and during the time that I am working on the project, I can typically zone out and watch a movie. :)
D) Singing is another hobby that I've been doing for longer than I can remember. I've always been able to match pitch and the ability to make music anywhere anytime is wonderful. :)
E) Baking is something else I love. At one point, I considered being a pastry chef. I love baking. It's so relaxing. When I don't have three little girls trying to help... :) And at the end of it, I get deliciousness!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Suburbs, Significance, and Superpowers

19. If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?
If I could live anywhere, I would choose to live within a few hours of Washington, DC or London or maybe New York. If I hope to home school, I want to be able to take frequent field trips to museums and to have some "culture" in the area. I think having experiences is a big part of learning and I hope to let my children have those experiences as well. But I also want them to have the suburban life that I grew up with. I want them to have the safety of playing outside without Mommy right there behind them. I want them to be able to walk down the block without Mommy having a panic attack. And I want to be able to relax without the sound of traffic. A few hours outside of a city will also put me a few hours outside of the wilderness letting me escape to nature now and then.

20. Describe 3 significant memories from your childhood.
A) One of the few happy memories that I have of my parents together is camping. We always tried to get the same spot. It was right by the main office so we could easily get candy and get to the trails. There was a great tree for climbing and for hanging things to dry. There was a great place to pitch our tent and enough space to park the car and play in the grass. I still remember setting up our two tents (with the tunnel in between of course) and setting up the girls tent (me and mom) and the boys tent (dad and joey). We didn't even pack pajamas. We slept in our jeans in our sleeping bags and I think I even slept in socks (which I cannot do ever). We would play Uno at night and build a campfire. We talked and at food over the fire. I never remember my family fighting during these times. Except my brother throwing a handheld game at me and bruising me instantly.
B) Easter of 1999, my family went to my great-grandmother's to celebrate. We hadn't been there in years and I didn't recognize anyone. This is the first time I remember having an anxiety attack though I wouldn't connect the dots until a few months ago. I was so uncomfortable and so freaked out that I hid on the couch with my "big sister" until I found a cousin that I remembered. That overwhelming feeling of insecurity and paralyzing fear is one I still remember.
C) I will always remember the feeling of my Smokey curled up above my head whenever I was sick or sad. Or Chyna (who is still living at my grandmother's) tying my hair up in knots as I tried to sleep. Or moving Tigger's dead weight onto my lap when he was sleeping where I wanted to sit. And I will never forget curling up in the corner of our sectional sofa and refusing to say good-bye to my puppy, my Dutchess, before my dad took her to the vet to be put down. I thought if I refused to say good-bye, it wouldn't be real. My pets were a HUGE part of the first 13 years of my life and will always be a part of who I am. Smokey 2/20/90-3/9/06 Tigger 12/28/93-8/2006 Chyna 07/1998-present Dutchess 1997-1998

21. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and what would you do with it first?
If I could have one superpower, it would definitely be the ability to fly as long and as far as I wanted with as much weight as I needed to carry. My first course of action would be to fly around for a few hours marveling in the joy of the feeling of wind and the beauty of G-d's creation from a new angle.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Animal, Accomplishments, Aspirations, Actualization

15. If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
If I were an animal, I'd be a cat. I love laying in the warm patch of sunshine on the table. I could sleep most of the day away easily. I'm very affectionate and love to cuddle but I also like to play and have fun. Like my kitty, I'm very protective of those I love.

16. What are your 5 greatest accomplishments?
A) I stopped hurting myself five years ago. I haven't given in once in the last five years despite being tempted. It was difficult at first but with friends and G-d, I've managed. :)
B) I was the first one in my pedigree to graduate from high school and to get a bachelor's degree. This is a big accomplishment for me.
C) I've never done anything I wasn't comfortable with physically. Every kiss, every step forward was not done under pressure. Though I may now wish that I'd made different choices, never did I make a step because someone else wanted me to.
D) I survived three months in London away from the man I loved as well as all of my family at 19. I then traveled to Germany where I used solely my second language for five days and THEN continued on for five days in Rome alone. I don't speak a word of Italian. When I'm not sure that I can handle some things, I remind myself that if I can handle 5 days in a country where I don't speak a word of the language, I can probably handle whatever the situation is.
E) Ending a relationship that wasn't right for me on my own terms in my own time and coming back from that ready to become the godly woman I want to be and that G-d deserves to worship Him

17. What is the thing you most wish you were great at?
I wish I were better at something creative. Writing, painting, music (guitar/piano, singing). I have a smidgen of talent in each area but not enough that I feel accomplished in any. Mind you though I also haven't worked hard at cultivating a talent in any of them so I suppose that great self-control would be even better. Then I might be able to manage my time, work out to be healthy, write more often, learn to play guitar, practice piano, use my voice for more than singing along to the radio.

18. What has been the most difficult thing you have had to forgive?
I'm not entirely sure which to pick. There were some very hurtful things that Ron managed to say during the course of our fights which I forgave. I've had to forgive friends for being well crappy friends. But I think that the most difficult thing to forgive is actually myself. When I chose to sleep with Ron, I broke a promise I'd made when I was 9 years old. Every time that I made the choice to slip into bed with him, I hurt myself. I hurt our relationship as much as it felt like the opposite. I hurt G-d and I hurt my connection to Him. When I finally realized just how awful that was and how much I shouldn't have done that, I felt awful. I dealt with guilt and shame and I struggled majorly with the ideas of purity and virginity, with repentance and forgiveness. I didn't know if I was clean in G-d's eyes but I wasn't in my own. I'm still not sure if I believe I'm pure or clean. I am not a virgin and will never use that term to describe myself again. And I never did like the term pure anyhow. These struggles are sort of on the back burner for me now though I ought to consider them more fully. I have, however, forgiven myself for the mistakes I've made. I'm still broken over it but I'm healing and I've managed to realize why I did that, why I broke that promise to myself. Overcoming that and forgiving myself for that sin is the hardest thing I've had to forgive. And I have brought this before G-d and I have asked his forgiveness. I was never in doubt that He forgave me once I asked and repented. I just needed to know what repentance meant.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Things 12 through 14 (Typical Day, Weaknesses, Strengths)

12. Describe a typical day in your current life.
I thought this one deserved to at least be at the start of a post considering how much the difference is in my life given my job.
8:00am - First alarm goes off. Roll over and tell it to shut up.
8:50am - Second alarm goes off. Roll over and tell it to shut up.
9:20am - Snooze from second alarm goes off for the third time. Finally get up and get ready.
9:35am - Enter apartment five minutes late for work. Make coffee, gradually take over control of Nuria.
The next three hours are spent with Nuria, hanging out, playing, and letting her nap in the baby sling on my chest.
12:30pm - Break. Drink another cup of coffee. Chat with Kathrin. Read on my Kindle.
1:15pm - Lunch is typically done around this time. I start eating with Nuria and Kathrin but often end up finishing by myself. After lunch, I spend time on facebook, pinterest, or reading.
4:00pm - I take over for the girls again for the next two hours. Often the baby is asleep at first so we play at home and then go out to a playground after she wakes up.
6:00pm - I'm free for the evening but wind up helping out with the girls anyhow during dinner, before bed, etc. I spend the rest of the evening doing research online, Skyping, watching Netflix, etc.
9:00pm - I throw the girls in bed (literally) and back to Artemis.
1:00am - I finally shut off the computer and go to bed.

13. Describe 5 weaknesses you have.
If there's something I feel bad about, I will beat myself up about it for... a long time. I've probably got the world most incredible guilt complex.
Faith - I'm not good at living my faith as strongly as I ought to. I don't read my Bible or pray every day. I don't go to church. I don't know if those around me would describe me as Christian right off the bat.
Saving money - I like to spend money. I don't do well at budgeting or saving. I'd rather buy the coffee today than save for the trip four months from now.
Coping - My mental illnesses overwhelms me sometimes. I'd rather hide away in my bubble to stay "safe" than risk anything. The thought of possibly being judged keeps me from "crowds" and that's from my anxiety. I have a hard time overcoming some of my symptoms and living in a seemingly normal way.
Inability to make new friends - I don't know where to find new friends, how to start conversations, or how to go from acquaintance to friend.

14. Describe 5 strengths you have.
When my life is falling to pieces, I may struggle for a bit on my own but I realize fairly quickly to turn to G-d and lean on His strength. I've learned over the years that is the only way to survive the hard times. I seek His face, I worship, I journal.
When I love, it's with all I have. When I love, I'm willing to do anything I can for that person. To protect those that I love, I will do anything. And when I say I love you, it is not out of habit or because I feel obligated. It's because I believe your presence makes my life better and I don't want you to ever forget that.
As I've been told many times, I'm more grown-up than some of the adults in my family. I don't enjoy getting drunk. I don't enjoy parties. I know the right thing to do and most of the time I do it. My maturity is one of my strengths.
I've also got an unbelievable ability to multi-task. I am the queen of the multi-task.
I'm also a good listener and fairly good at giving advice. I may not be perfect but when my friends are in trouble, they know they can come to me for tea, a shoulder to cry on, advice if they want it and an ear to listen if they don't.

Questions 7-11 out of 30

7. What is your dream job, and why?
I honestly have no idea. I love working with children and I hope to be a stay at home mom and to homeschool but I don't know if that's my dream job. :/

8. What are 5 passions you have?
A) I'm passionate about my love for children. All I've ever wanted is to be a mother, to be pregnant, to raise a child. I moved halfway around the world to take care of children rather than returning to a crappy summer job in Rochester.
B) I'm growing passionate about my faith. I'm learning to lean on Him in good times and in bad. For some reason, the bad is easier. But I know that I need G-d all the time. I'm learning to spend time with Him daily.
C) I'm passionate about reading. I cannot understand how anyone can not like reading or can not have a favorite book or books. I've been reading for the last 19 years or so
D) I'm passionate about music. My life has a soundtrack. It just happens to run in my head. I've been singing since before I can remember and am told I could match pitch from a very young age. I play music constantly and cannot handle a day without music.
E) I'm passionate about my family. Those who are close enough that I consider them family are my life. I'd do anything I could for my sisters, my parents, my brothers. I cannot imagine my life without my family and the wonderful thing is that my family isn't just those G-d chose to bless me with biologically. :)

9. List 10 people who have influenced you and describe how.
Mary Beth - My best friend, my college roommate, my future maid of honor and my future children's aunt. She's been such a blessing to me. She's always there for me and has showed me what it means to follow Christ as well as what it means to be a good friend. Despite not agreeing with many of my decisions over the last four years, she's never made me feel bad for them or judged me for them. Years from now, when we're old and grey, we'll be sitting in a coffee shop talking about our grandkids and laughing.
Gramma - My gramma is the one who took me to church when I was a baby. My parents gave me good morals but my gramma gave me faith, or the foundation of it.
Ron - During our relationship, I grew up. I learned a lot about myself. I learned about what I don't want in a relationship and what I do. I learned about what it means to be in a relationship and I learned firsthand why a Christian shouldn't date a non-believer. If I had to point to one specific thing in the last decade that's changed me the most, it would be a tie between my relationship and my experience at Houghton.
Dad - Like I said the other day, I was Daddy's little girl. He's influenced me more than I could possibly explain.
Mom - My mom's been a huge impact on me too. No, she's not always been the best mother. But she's there for me. I can talk to her about anything and though I hope to do some things very differently, I do hope my kids are as comfortable talking to me about sex, relationships, and love as I am talking to her.

Samantha - If not for Samantha, I would have tried to kill myself when I was 12. Trying to be a good example for her has been a big part of my life the last ten years.
Jessie - I don't know how I managed to get so close to Jess so quickly. We went from strangers to such good friends in the span of maybe 6 months. She knows me better than I know myself and I've talked to her about everything.
Julia - My big sister. :) She lived with us for a year when I was 8 and I still have good memories of attending the high school Jazz Caberet night with her. She made me an aunt last week. If she hadn't lived with us, I'd never have studied German and some of the amazing opportunities in my life wouldn't have materialized.
Red - My German "aunt". She lived with my Gramma for a year at the same time Julia lived with us. We've kept in touch more so than with Julia and she's the one who suggested I become an Au Pair, or at least look into it. I was also able to visit her in California last February and to stay with her family when I was in Germany last time. She's planning to show me some of the tricks to using a camera. :)
Yes, that's only 9 but I can't think of a 10th at the moment.

10. Describe your most embarrasing moment.
I really try to block these out of my head. I don't like to dwell on them. My guilt complex is bad enough already.

11. Describe 10 pet peeves you have.
People using His name in vain.
When people leave the cupboard open. Especially in the kitchen.
Misusing words like "gay" or "retarded" to mean "stupid"
Leaving dishes in the sink instead of the empty dishwasher.
The complex issues around purity and virginity.

When peanut butter is hidden in a dessert
Sand in my shoes
Snot/vomit/spitup/other bodily fluids on my shoulder from the baby
The internet not working
Talking on the phone

Hardest Thing You've Done

6. What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced?
The past year or so of my life has honestly been one of the hardest things I've gone through. From November 2010 through November 2011, I lost every single plan I had. I'd been planning to be a teacher and to marry Ron after graduation. Then I had some problems with my classroom teacher as well as my college mentor. I was also struggling with lesson plans and trying to manage to reach all my students at one time. With the different levels even among "normal" students, I was having a hard time tailoring my lessons. The final straw was when I walked out of a Veteran's Day performance because I was having a hard time coping with the implications from my personal life. In retrospect, it was most definitely not the right choice. I should have wiped the tears away, shut my eyes for a moment, and watched my kids in their performance. Instead, it was the last straw. Two weeks later, I changed my major to English because I realized I would not survive the student teaching. The idea of making it through another week was too much, let alone another year. With that change in major, I lost my motivation towards school. I ended up having one of the worst semesters of my entire life. I passed my courses but barely. I didn't do most of my homework, honestly. I was depressed, I was also not on the best terms with Ron.
After the summer, where Ron and I fought a lot and I failed my driver's license test, as well as fighting with my parental units over their alcohol use, I went back to school. Ron and I decided before I went back that we wouldn't decide about our relationship until I came back from the semester at Christmas. Well, that didn't work so well. We still fought, we still were growing apart. I was living with six of the most amazing girls including my best friend. If not for those girls and the example they set for me in Christ, I don't know how that year would have gone. Somehow, Ron and I disintegrated. When I came home for October break, I got my wisdom teeth out and was incredibly drugged up. Between the penicillin, the vicodin, and the remnants of the anesthesia, I don't remember too much of that weekend. I remember being very tired and I remember not knowing if I'd spoken or if I'd just thought about it. A lot of my memories of that weekend come from the text messages I'd written and then read after the anesthesia wore off. Apparently, at some point in this time frame, I said something horrible to Ron for which he never forgave me. Until this point, I was basically desperate to fix what I viewed as a marriage. Shortly after I returned to school and recovered from my wisdom teeth removal, I started praying about G-d's will for our relationship. I went from telling G-d that my relationship was a marriage and therefore, He couldn't possibly want it to end, to asking G-d what He wanted from me in regards to this. One night at Koin, I opened up my hands, physically, and I prayed that if He was to take this relationship from me, that He would support me and give me the strength to overcome the heartbreak. It became incredibly clear that G-d was telling me to end it. I took my ring off and I asked Ron for one last kiss. We ended our relationship in the same Starbucks we started it. That weekend, I pierced my ear on a whim, I worked out like mad trying to get to the point that when he saw me again, he'd wish he never let me go. Yes, that's childish. I went back to school. I ate cookie dough almost every day for a week. I cried. But you know what? I had the strength of G-d. I cannot tell you how many times people told me "Wow. You just broke up with your fiance of three years!? I don't know how you're handling this so well." And honestly, the ONLY way that I was handling it was through the Grace of G-d. But at the same time, everything in my life was falling apart. All of my plans were gone. I had no idea what my life was going to look like in a year. I had no clue what my love life was going to look like. And I thought that I was ready to move on, to start dating. I was so wrong that it's not even funny. This year of my life, from changing my major to changing my relational status, is the hardest time I've gone through. And I learned to lean on G-d. Without His strength, I would have been crushed. Instead, I found friends to help me. No, I didn't handle it perfectly. I made some mistakes. I hurt some friendships and I leaned on some people in the wrong way. But I got through it with HIM. This was the hardest thing I've gone through and even now I'm learning the lessons He has for me. I don't know what comes next but I'm learning to see the next step on the path and to rely on Him. This is bound to be a lifelong lesson, I'm sure.

(P.S. My idea about five per post? Well this is so long and rather intense that I think it deserved it's own. So number of questions per post will vary. My blog, my rules. :P)

Friday, September 7, 2012

5/30 things

The madwoman has decided that tonight (since it's only 9:30 and freaking dark out already :glare:), she's going to journal a bunch. Including answering (okay probably mainly JUST answering) these 30 things. And watching Netflix. And researching Messianic Judaism. Again. (I'm drawn back to it every couple of months. I think that may be telling me something...)

1. List 20 random facts about yourself.
If you ask me, I'll tell you I don't like peanut butter or mustard. But I use both.
Of the five love languages, mine is touch.
If I could have one thing from my past back, it would be my cat: Smokey.
At this moment, I cannot definitively tell you where my home is.
Though I am a Christian, I have never read my Bible on a daily basis outside of camp.

I became an aunt on 9/1/12 at 5:39am to an absolutely beautiful little girl named Emilia Evelyn.
Though college was what I needed socially and emotionally, I sometimes feel it was a waste of money.
I wish sometimes that I had ended my relationship with Ron much earlier.
Autumn is my favorite season.
I'd rather cuddle than have sex.

My hair is currently red with black tips.
I don't enjoy wearing gold/diamonds because I'm afraid of losing/damaging it.
The only jewelry I wear on a daily basis are one ring per hand, a nose stud, and a barbell in my helix.
Some of the movies I consider my absolute favorites, I don't own.
I have very little self-control in some areas. Like waking up early.

My first job was as the "phone girl" for a local pizza joint.
After I return to the US, I'm hoping to find a job as either a waitress or a nanny.
I cried when I saw pictures of my niece.
Today's emotion for most of it has been apathy.
Lastly, my first celebrity crush was Brandon Quinn from "Big Wolf on Campus".

2. Describe 3 legitimate fears you have and explain how they became fears.
A) I'm afraid of the dead. It just happened. I was at my great-grandmother's wake, getting things ready with my mother, and she couldn't handle putting the pictures in the coffin. I took the pictures, told her I'd do it and when I tried, I was frozen. I couldn't move. The illogical part of my brain thought that she's sit up and demand her rings (which I was wearing) back.
B) I'm afraid of helicopters. Just the sound used to send me into a panic attack. It's gotten better but if one lands, I still freak out. When I was around 7, one landed in our backyard basically in order to med-evac someone who was in an auto accident to the hospital. It scared me so badly that I don't even remember this event. In high school, one landed about 100 yards away from me as part of a drunk driving demonstration. I had a panic attack on the bleachers and started crying.
C) I'm afraid of doing something wrong. I have a terrible guilt complex.

3. Describe your relationship with your parents.
My dad and I are way too much alike. We fight when we're around each other too much. But I'm realizing now that I'm taking care of the girls so much that he influenced me a LOT growing up. The way I take care of the girls, the things I say, the way I play with them sometimes (throwing them on the bed, holding them upside down). Even the style of discipline I aspire to: setting boundaries, outlining consequences, sticking to them. It comes from him. I was Daddy's little girl and now I'm realizing just what that means in terms of his impact on my life. That's also why it bothers me so much when he drinks and smokes.
My mom is now a good friend but didn't really fulfill the mother role when I was a teenager and needed it. She was dealing with the divorce and then with her marriage and Samantha. And at the moment we just got into another disagreement about religion so I don't have too much to say.

4. List 10 things you would tell your 16 year-old self, if you could.
Your sex drive will kick in eventually. Don't judge your friends because theirs kicked in sooner.
When you dye your hair black, just realize how long it's going to take to get it back.
Learn the articles to the German words. It will be important one day.
You are not manic depressive. You have depression and anxiety. Learn coping mechanisms now rather than later. They will be important. Tea can only do so much.
College will be a time of great learning for you. You will change so much that you wouldn't recognize yourself if you saw the girl woman writing this. Your plans will change but you are always in the hands of the King.

Speaking of college and of the King, GO TO KOIN! It's one of the most unique experiences you'll have in your life and you will miss it when you leave.
Get your license dammit! Seriously!
Convince Dad to take you to see Gramma Blair more. Record her stories. Otherwise when she's gone, you'll be left not knowing her. Ditto Poppy (though Gott sei Dank he's still with us).
Pet Smokey. Don't ignore her because you're afraid of losing her. (My cat was incredibly skinny and sick when she passed away.)
"The Bible is bread for every day living not cake for special occassions." Seek G-d every day.

5. What are the 5 things that make you most happy right now?
The smile on Nuria's face when she tottles over to me.
Conversations with my closest friends from back home.
Emilia Evelyn, my newborn niece.
Coffee. Yes, seriously.
The glimpses I have of the woman I know He wants me to be.

I've decided I'll be posting these in segments of five, no matter how long that takes me to finish. So here's the first five. Next five to come later (tonight, tomorrow, no clue when).