Thursday, October 27, 2011


I had a pretty severe high school flashback while driving home from work. Third Eye Blind's "Semi-charmed Life" came on the radio and whooooosh... I was back in my baggy LEI jeans and Converse sneakers. The faces of my best friends flashed before my eyes along with all the times we got in trouble for chatting in class and staying out too late. It got me thinking about how much I've changed since then. And it makes me wonder how different my old friends are today.

In high school, I was painfully shy and sometimes (OK, often) awkward. No joke. It's been documented in year books. I wasn't completely confident in my flared LEIs, and I was never the most popular girl in school. I'm still not the most popular girl in my world, but I'm ok with that. To be honest, I was pretty ok with it back then, too. Popularity seemed like a lot of pressure. I'm also still awkward sometimes. (Often.) Right now, I'm realizing it sounds like I'm exactly the same, but some things have changed. I promise.

I finally grew into my gangly arms and legs, and I can run without falling down now, which is pretty great. I would probably still get cut from the 8th grade basketball team, though.

Another new development? Dancing. I used to be terrified of dancing. I think most, if not all, people look like complete morons when they dance. I'm 100% included in that group. But I realized at some point that dancing is fun, and probably the closest I'll get to actually being a child again. I'll gladly look like a moron for the bliss that comes with my awesome moves during the perfect song.

I'm also not horrified of speaking in public anymore. I used to emotionally and (only sometimes) physically curl up in a ball when asked what I thought about something. I lacked confidence and had a squeaky I-don't-know-what-I'm-talking-about voice, which didn't help. When I finally decided I had something to say, I somehow learned how to do it. Now I'm a professional communicator. How crazy. Somewhere along the way, I learned that having an opinion and demanding (nicely) to be heard is not a bad or scary thing.

So as not to make it seem like all of my changes have been positive ones, I will also say that I am a lot more cynical than my 14-year-old self. I miss how she used to see the brightest possible scenario and used to be unconditionally merciful and generous. Life threw some cold water on my face in the last 10 years, and I wish that innocence and lightheartedness hadn't been as hampered as it was. I'm working on getting that back...

I'm comfortable in my own skin. I spent a lot of time trying to look and act the right way to fit into a certain box when I was younger. Somewhere between 12 and 25, I figured out that my box is the only one I want to fit into. It's a lot more comfortable to be who I really am and look and dress and act like myself rather than anyone else.

My world no longer revolves around boys - although I live with one, now. Ironic.

I personally can't wait for my 10-year reunion. Good and bad, people change, and that is so cool. I love to hear the stories of how people have come to be the way they are. There's always a reason.

How have you changed the most since your angsty teen years? And, more importantly, do you remember Chumbawamba?! We were so cool.

Monday, October 17, 2011

no time.

This has been rattling around in my brain for too long. Here goes...

I had an epiphany a few months ago that is kicking my martyrdom complex in the shins. It's this: Giving up the things that distract you or stop you from investing in people and pursuing your passions is not sacrifice. It's common sense. And, in my opinion, giving up things that you can't seem to live without is a great way to come to the realization that you can. And, frankly, probably should.

Life in my house is full of stress and work and school and cleaning and entertaining and such - just like most houses. I feel like I am busy all. the. time. Several months ago, I found myself saying over and over again, "I don't have time," in response to a question about why I'm not doing __________. Most of the time, I was asking myself the question. "Why aren't you writing more?" "Why aren't you playing your guitar?" "When was the last time you read a book for pleasure?" "Why aren't you spending more time with your neighbors?" "Why did you quit painting?" "Why aren't you exercising?" "Why aren't you getting more sleep?" It went on and on.

My "I don't have time" answer was just an excuse, though. I was choosing not to see the fact that I spent about two hours a day (give or take) watching television or numbing out surfing my favorite websites to "unwind." That's 10 hours of time (that I don't have, remember?) just during the weekdays. 10 hours that I could be doing a million different things that I actually enjoy doing. Instead, I was entertaining myself into a stupor.

There are so many days that I come home and literally can't think about doing anything but vegging out. I want nothing more than to drown out the constant chatter in my mind about my to-do list at work and at home so that I can just get some freaking rest. But the things I was doing weren't giving me rest. They were really effective in drowning out my busy mind, but it also caused me to disengage with life in general as soon as I walked through my front door every night. I was becoming a workaholic during the day and moonlighting as a zombie. Which my husband loved. Or maybe not.

Photo from here.
So we made a decision to turn the TV off during the week and to make an effort to have quality face time (and not the kind on your iPhone). Our first "intentional" activity was making a chore calendar, because it wasn't just my pleasure reading that wasn't happening as often as I'd like. It was my plants that were dying. And my shelves needed to be plowed for all the dust. Then we started getting creative. It's amazing how much quality time you can have when you're not competing with whatever lame fall show is on - like New Girl or Parks & Recreation. Both of which I actually happen to ADORE. But I'm growing, so I just say no. Most of the time. I'll be honest here.

We've played games and read books. Yes, two people with more than full-time jobs are reading for pleasure. Amazing. My house is very nearly spotless, for being old and dirty in nature. Plus, I've been working out for an hour almost every day. Seriously. This is a legitimate miracle. I've lost 5.5 pounds and my muscles have nearly stopped whining. I have very little interested (much less the blatant addiction from weeks ago) in checking my work e-mail after hours, which is a relief in itself. Ah, freedom... My plants are still dying, but it's not because I'm not watering them. It's because plants just die under my care. They give up and I don't know why. Maybe I love them to death.

By far the best part about this whole thing is that I feel more healthy and... engaged. I thought I needed to drown out my mind because it wasn't capable of just choosing not to fret. I was wrong.

I'll be honest and say that the first few weeks were really hard. We would make dinner and stare at each other with a twinge of panic in our eyes because we had NO IDEA what to do with the next 3 hours of our evening. But it's getting easier. And, to be fair, some of the panic might have been because we were out of ice cream.

For a while in the beginning, I felt like a martyr. I felt like I was making this grand sacrifice to be a more productive and just plain better person. But doing something that is good for me and gets me focused on the things that feed my soul is not really sacrifice. It's like fresh fruit and a good workout. Healthy and light. I feel better because of it.

We're trying to get more creative with our time and make sure that we're getting the most out of every minute. Here are a few of our ideas:

- Writing. I need to write for my mental health. The longer I go without it, the more I forget how much it centers me.
- Reading for pleasure. No explanation needed. Bliss.
- Weekly jam sessions. Me on guitar and him on the d'jembe (an African drum). We got to know each other during jam sessions in my dorm at college. These times are sacred.
- YouTube dance lessons. Yep. We're doing it. I don't even care if you laugh.
- Nightly walks around the neighborhood. This time is so refreshing. There is something about walking side by side that makes talking so easy and fun. Most of the time. We've also had heated conversations while walking (sometimes 'storming' is a better description) by our neighbors' houses. But it's worth it, and we almost always walk back into the house feeling closer and understood.
- Investing in people. I love my city (most of the time), I love the people in it and I love to get my hands dirty. But this was one of the first things to go when I was just too spent to do anything. I NEED this. If you live in Dallas, I know a ton of really fun ways to get involved! Ask me. I promise I'll have time to tell you.
- Puzzles. Remember those? My muscles are literally sore from last night's puzzle session. Apparently puzzling also makes me a little tense.

What are your favorite things to do when you have to entertain yourself?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

my summer vacation

Wow. This is my longest stretch of silence in a while. It's been an eventful summer and entry into fall with a lot of fun, excitement, trauma and road trips. To explain why I've been so quiet, I've put together the proof of my crazy summer vacation...

My parents helped us kick off the summer with a visit! As usual, they couldn't leave without buying us a major appliance. Thanks, you guys...

Next up was a visit from our friend Nicholas from Ghana. OK, we didn't actually know him to begin with, but he was our friend by the time he left. He was in town for a couple of weeks training at the Dallas Seminary, and we hosted him for a weekend and showed him how people party in America - playing putt-putt and laser tag. That's how people party, right?

Next came the wedding of the year! My BFF from TCU decided that Vegas was calling her name. So we piled in the car with my other BFF from TCU and her man and drove 1,534,976 miles to Las Vegas. Totally worth it. Did I mention BFF #1 was there to get married?!

Later in the summer, my man and I celebrated our 4-year anniversary. Twice. Once at the ballpark for a Rangers game with our Dallas gang, and once at a really fancy hotel (OK, it was a Marriott) sipping orange soda by the pool. We're so classy I can't stand it sometimes.

Somewhere in here, we had a pool party with some of our favorite kids (and their parents).


Next came my birthday and Rob's birthday. Again, we kept it very classy.

We then climbed back in the car and headed to New Braunfels to float the old Guadalupe river. We all escaped with only minor bumps and bruises and lots of fun memories.

Finally, the crescendo of our summer, we hopped on a plane and headed west to vacation by the beach. We read books, went to Disneyland, played puzzles with my parents, laid very still on the beach, slept until our eyes popped open (read: very late) and stared at each other. It was heavenly.

Best summer ever, right? What is your favorite memory from this summer?