An Unexpected Gap Year

I’ve made peace with the fact that my education will be on hold for a year, and I have something now that I haven’t had in awhile, a lot of free time.

In spring of this year I experienced one of the worst bouts of depression and anxiety in my life. I was struggling to balance a full-time school schedule, increasing responsibilities at work, responsibilities at church, and just life in general. As summer began I decided to end my work with the church and with no school I felt like I could finally breathe. I caught up on all my tv shows, read a lot of books, and rested when I wasn’t at work. But there were still things to be done, as much as I didn’t want there to be.

There were 3 exams I needed to take in order to be fully admitted into the Teacher education program at my university. I wanted to study for them, I did. I bought the practice tests and the study guides, I scheduled time in my week when I would sit down and study. But when those times came I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. The thing was I dreaded returning to school. I was not ready to jump back into the hectic life of a working student. So I put off my exams as long as possible. My choice had consequences. I would have to wait all the way until next fall, a full year, before I could be fully admitted. At first I was upset, what a mistake I’d made! I was afraid that this dream I had of being a teacher would never come true.

I’ve made peace with the fact that my education will be on hold for a year, and I have something now that I haven’t had in awhile, a lot of free time. It feels like I’m an artist sitting in front of a blank canvas, I can do anything with this time. I can focus on things I haven’t had time to before. So what will those things be? Maybe I will focus on my writing, finish that short story, or join a writing group. Maybe I’ll buy that camera I’ve been wanting forever. Maybe I’ll resume learning to play the Ukulele. There’s literally a ton of creative endeavors on my to-do list and I finally have the time to do them. It’s exciting and overwhelming as I try to figure out what to do first.

All choices have consequences but not all consequences are bad. Sometimes they open doors you never had before.

Love: Myth or Legend?

In reality love does not make the baggage magically dissipate. I could be the perfect girlfriend, wife, partner and none of that will erase what happened before we met.

Lately love, romantic love, has been on my mind a lot. Specifically how it has changed from being something that was a certainty in my mind to more of an abstract idea. If you’re familiar with my blog then you know that “singledom” has been a mainstay in my life, so I don’t have much experience with love. Despite that, I am a die hard romantic. I’m the type of girl that will leave love notes in your shoes, only give you handwritten birthday cards professing my undying devotion, and will regularly send you songs that explain how I feel about you. I have watched Pride and Prejudice (Keira Knightley version) a hundred times and rewinded the part where Darcy confesses his love to Lizzy probably 1000. I LOVE love.

I owe my obsession with romance to Disney, Twilight, and all those sappy YA romances that sell an unrealistic idea of love and relationships. They’re all pretty much the same story. Boy meets Girl but there’s an issue. Boy is from the wrong side of the tracks, or Boy loves the taste of human blood. Girl has some deep dark secret that could ruin them, or Girl has someone else fighting for her attention. But 90 minutes later or a few books later their love conquers all of that.

In reality love does not make the baggage magically dissipate. I could be the perfect girlfriend, wife, partner and none of that will erase what happened before we met. It won’t make him deal with his issues, or undo the unhealthy relationships I’ve witnessed in the past. Real people have problems, real relationships are difficult, and risky. “They lived happily ever after” is a big fat myth. What they should say at the end of the story is, “They worked at their relationship and hoped it would last forever.”

So how do I undo the ideal I dreamed up while drifting through the halls of high school? How do I stop finding real life men so damned disappointing compared to the ones in my books? How do I stop longing for someone who doesn’t exist?

 

Picture by Jacob Culp

Maybe You Should Go and Love Yourself

I’m finally starting to feel at home in my own body. Gone is this mythical future me who has my ideal body. She has been replaced with me the way I look right now.  

Every woman has an ideal body type. Mine from childhood was always a hourglass with a flat stomach and toned limbs. I didn’t care for my apple shape, it came with broad shoulders, an annoyingly large chest, a flabby tummy, and flat behind. I would look in the mirror, sigh with disappointment and envision my adult self with a perfect curvaceous figure. I’d say to myself “Right now I may be struggling with my style and I may be a little dumpy, but one day I’m going to get all that together.” Years past and I found myself firmly planted in adulthood  still not “together.”  I came to the realization that while I am going through the ups and downs of trying to live a healthier lifestyle I could be this size for the rest of my life. I need to be able to be okay with that and love myself anyway.

Mission Love my Body started by following a lot of plus size models on Instagram. These were women with a similar body type as me loving their bodies with all its rolls, cellulite, and stretch marks. They were fashionable, beautiful, their size was not a hindrance it just simply was. I then scoured the internet for tips on best dressing my body. Next I pushed through self deprecating thoughts and posted full body pictures of myself on social media. And I finally started to feel at home in my own body. Gone was this mythical future me who had my ideal body. She was replaced with me the way I look right now.

Some people may call me plus size, others thick, others curvy, some may call me overweight, or unhealthy, and some may call me fat. Some of these terms I like, others I don’t, but the fact of the matter is that how society sees my body is not as important as how I see my body. I’m the one whose living in it, looking at it every single day. There might always be a little jiggle in certain areas, I may never have that flat stomach and my cellulite is probably here to stay. But I walk out the door feeling just as beautiful, just as worthy as any other woman.

 

Would You Rather: Bookish Edition

Books are a big part of my existence so I had to play…

I love the game “Would you rather” and was glad to see a book lover version over at Annie Likes Words blog. Books are a big part of my existence so I had to play myself.

Would you rather…

Read only stand-alones or trilogies?

Depends on the genre. I love when suspense or fantasy novels are trilogies but a good piece of contemporary fiction is better a stand-alone.

Read only male or female authors?

I don’t mean to be sexist or anything but almost all of my favorite books are by female authors so, female authors.

Shop at Barnes & Noble or Amazon?

Amazon hands down. Their prices are better for print books as well as e-books. Sorry not sorry Barnsey but I’m on a budget.

Have all books turned into movies or television shows?

Last year this would’ve been a harder choice , but after seeing what Hulu has done with The Handmaids tale and what Netflix has done with Anne with an “E” I’ve got to say TV show.  A well made TV show gives that plot more time to unfold and slowly pull you in the way a book does. In the movies sometimes great scenes from the book are cut because of lack of time. And if the character isn’t narrating the movie like they are in the book then it’s hard to know what’s going on in their head. Take The Hunger Games for example. In my opinion Katniss on screen came across as cold and robotic. In the books it isn’t like that, you get to know what she’s thinking and feeling, she’s much more relatable.

 Read 5 pages per day or 5 books per week?

I LOVE to read, but 5 books in a week? My heart and mind couldn’t handle it. I fall in love with the characters, they become like my friends. I grieve with them, laugh with them, I can’t connect with 5 books worth of characters in a week. 5 pages a day is actually too little for me but if I had to choose.

Be a potential reviewer or author?

Author, duh. It’s been my dream since I could read.

Only read your top 20 favorite books over and over or read new ones you’ve never read before?

New ones, I’m not a huge re-reader. I’ll go back to a book and read passages but not the whole thing. I love discovering new books and authors I’ve never read before, it’s exciting.

Be a librarian or a bookseller?

Bookseller. Libraries will always have a special place in my heart but frankly they’re a little uptight. I know all the library lovers are cursing me right now but I’m okay with that. I have dreams of owning my own quaint indie bookstore, where I sell new and gently used books for the cheap. I’ll be like Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail except I won’t sell only children’s books and I won’t accidentally fall in love with Tom Hanks online.

Only read your favorite genres or read every genre except your favorites?

I like a variety of genres so I think I’ll be okay only reading them.

Only read physical books or e-books?

This is a tough one. I love them both! E-books are very convenient, you can read them whenever wherever in low light or sunshine. On the other side there’s nothing like having an actual book in your hands. The feel of turning the pages, the smell, it’s bliss! There are books I’ve read as e-books that I want to buy the print version of just so I can have them in my collection. There’s certain pride you feel when you finish and put it on the shelf. So I guess I’m going to have to go with physical books.

~

So there it is, “Would You Rather” Bookish Edition. That was harder than I thought! Book lovers what do you think? I said some harsh things, shall I be excommunicated from the community??

A Day In Savannah

Savannah was Georgia’s first city, settled back in 1733. It seems the city holds tightly to this title because I’ve never seen a place so devoted to its history. The downtown area is still the way the city’s founder James Oglethorpe designed it 284 years ago. A lot of the structures, homes, and churches have survived the test of time making this city one of a kind. Being the history nerd that I am I relished that I was able to somewhat go back in time in Savannah. My pictures barely scratched the surface of the city’s classic beauty, its something you’ll have to see for yourself.

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General James Oglethorpe in Chippewa Square
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General James Oglethorpe
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Forsythe Park
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Forsythe Park
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Oldest tree in Savannah

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All Paula Deen in one place

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Paula Deen’s restaurant
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Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
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In the River of Life

The last time I posted to this blog was February 1, 2017, and though that was only 3 months ago I find myself a different woman today than I was then. In the past 3 months anxiety and depression have bit into me like never before, my faith was thrown onto its axis, I was questioning whether I wanted to continue in my friendships and I was beginning to hate everything I was once wanted.

What could happen in 3 months that could change my life so much?

Honestly, things had been changing in me for awhile, it’s just that in the last 3 months it all kind of came to a head. I’d always had highs and lows mood wise but my lows were getting scary low. The thoughts that went through my head were things I never thought I would even consider. I was struggling with feelings of being trapped by my Christianity. I felt disconnected from my friends, I didn’t trust them with what I was experiencing. I just didn’t want to do anything, I hated everything, I wondered if I really wanted everything I had been working towards.
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment it all fell apart but I think it was a combination of the stress of my studies, the stress of my job, and what I learned in my Intro to Religion class. I had to admit to myself that things were not alright, I was not alright.

I started seeing a therapist which altogether was a positive experience, it helped a lot. I wish I could tell you that it solved everything but it hasn’t and it wasn’t supposed to. I wish I could say that everything is alright now, but it’s not. I am better, but I am still working through some things.
I am learning that life isn’t a race to the top of a mountain where when you get to the top everything is perfect and you can finally be happy. No, it’s more like a great river. Rivers don’t stay the same as they flow down a mountain or through a canyon. There are big drops, sharp rocks, raging waters, but there are also parts of the river that are calm and serene. That’s how life is, sometimes it will be constant rough waters and you will think there is no end in sight but then there are parts where it’s smooth sailing. The river won’t ever end at this imagined place called “happiness” because happiness isn’t a destination it’s a fleeting emotion.

I used to, and I sometimes catch myself still, daydreaming about the one day when everything will finally come together and I will be happy. I’ll have the perfect job, partner, family and I will not have a worry on the planet. I’ll just sit at the top of my mountain and wait to die. But it doesn’t work like that. Life will still be life with all its twist and turns.
Now I strive to be better, better than I was yesterday. Make better choices, handle situations better. I remind myself that perfection is impossible, and to not be so damn hard on myself.
I don’t want to go back to who I was 3 months ago, that girl was a repressed ticking time bomb. But it is a strange feeling knowing that you’ve changed but to everyone else you look and for the most part act pretty much the same. I think it’s the changes that are not apparent to the outside world that are the most profound.

 

image by Joao Branco

Twelve Days Of Trump America

Twelve days ago our country changed, a new president and vice president were sworn in, and a new administration began. I didn’t watch the inauguration on purpose because I didn’t think I could stomach it. I still could not believe that America let that rat bastard into the highest office in the country.

via Daily Prompt: Resist

Twelve days ago our country changed, a new president and vice president were sworn in, and a new administration began. I didn’t watch the inauguration on purpose because I didn’t think I could stomach it. I still could not believe that America let that rat bastard into the highest office in the country.

I know, I’m a Christian and I’m not supposed to talk that way, but I’m mad, pissed, frustrated, and sad.

Seven days into his administration Mr. Trump followed through on one of his promises made during the election. He signed an immigration order that suspends immigrants from coming into the country from seven majority Muslim countries, those are Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria. The suspension will last 90 days for 6 of the countries, but for Syria it is indefinite. This is exactly what our Muslim neighbors feared would happen.
The order is supposed to protect are country from potential terrorist until vetting procedures can be strengthened. Mr. Trump would have us believe that this isn’t about religion or discrimination, but that’s a crock. It’s written in the order that after the ban is lifted some religions will be prioritized over others in refugee resettlement process, that sounds like discrimination to me.

I get it, I can understand it. In this post 9/11 world we’ve watched our neighbors in Europe and around the world get pounded by unspeakable violence at the hands of Muslim terrorist. We don’t want that to ever happen here again. But we’re punishing the majority for the sins of the minority. Syrians are suffering right now, families have been forced out of their homes, their whole lives have been turned upside down. They need refuge and America is closing the door. Not only is that un-American, it’s not Christ-like. Aren’t you a Christian Mr. Trump?
“Christian,” the word gets slimier every time it’s used it as a reason to mistreat others.

I hope you don’t forget Mr. Trump about the terror right here at home. Where any self-righteous maniac can get a gun and kill innocent people. Don’t forget that Omar Mateen was radicalized right in the homeland before he gunned down 49 people. ISIS doesn’t need to come through our borders, all they need is an internet connection.
Can we strengthen the vetting of carry licenses? Can we suspend the sale of automatic weapons for 90 days? Oh no that would be unconstitutional or daresay un-American!
We love our guns too much for that. We love them so much we go into churches, malls, movie theaters, and elementary schools and show them off.
I could almost laugh at the ludicrousness of it all if I wasn’t so damn depressed.

I’m sorry Mr. Trump but if this is what it means to “make America great again” I want none of it. You can take your white nationalist politics and shove it.
I bet the Republican party is wishing they would have resisted you now. They made a deal with the devil and we’ve got four years to go.

Four years, God help us. The real God, the loving one. Not whatever god Mr. Trump is praying to.

 

It will get worse, as power intoxicates Trump and those around him. It will probably end in calamity — substantial domestic protest and violence, a breakdown of international economic relationships, the collapse of major alliances, or perhaps one or more new wars (even with China) on top of the ones we already have. It will not be surprising in the slightest if his term ends not in four or in eight years, but sooner, with impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment.

David Brooks

Photo by Mikey

New Year, Better Me: Pursuing Peace in 2017

It seems that some people have been put on this earth just to try my patience. But it can be done, I’m not saying I’ll never be offended. I’m only saying that I can control how I respond to the offense.

 

 

 “For the one who wants to enjoy life and see good days [good—whether apparent or not]. Must keep his tongue free from evil and his lips from speaking guile (treachery, deceit) He must turn away from wickedness and do what is right.

He must search for peace [with God, with self, with others] and pursue it eagerly [actively—not merely desiring it].”

1 Peter 3:10-11  AMP

 

I am on the pursuit for peace. Peace with God, peace with myself, but mostly peace with others.
Since I’ve been at my current job I have struggled with some difficult personalities, that’s nothing new in itself but when coworkers offended me I would hold on to that offense. I’d let it fester, replaying what they said in my mind over and over. Eventually it would turn into resentment, negative thoughts towards that person, and ultimately unforgiveness. I’d eventually move on but it would take some time, a lot of prayer, and a lot of scripture.

But what if I didn’t have to do all that?  What if I could save myself the time and stress and not let it bother me at all?

Easier said than done I know. It seems that some people have been put on this earth just to try my patience. But it can be done, I’m not saying I’ll never be offended. I’m only saying that I can control how I respond to the offense. I can choose to not to let it take up valuable real estate in my mind. So instead of reacting negatively and harboring resentment and unforgiveness, which is sin, instead I can rise above the anger not letting it disturb my peace.

“Good sense and discretion make a man slow to anger,
And it is his honor and glory to overlook a transgression or an offense [without seeking revenge and harboring resentment]. “

Proverbs 19:11 AMP

I love that verse. It’s my honor and glory to overlook an offense. Nothing is gained from harboring resentment, but by letting it go God can be glorified. How you ask? Well we live in a world that LOVES confrontation. Just watch any reality TV show or scroll through your Facebook feed. There is plenty of videos of fights and vague venting. The world feeds on strife and discord. So when an employee comes for me, they are expecting clapback but I’m not going to give it to them. Instead of reacting with attitude I can peaceably communicate my concerns, rejecting worldly behavior and embracing Godly behavior.
If the conversation does not go as planned, or I don’t think a consensus was reached. I must not take that anger home with me because it will lead to sin.

“In your anger do not sin.” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

Ephesians 4:26-27

On a less spiritual note, letting someone disturb my peace gives that person power over me and that is just unacceptable. I won’t let trivial work stuff control my mood or my day anymore.

One thing I have done to help with my pursuit of peace is write down Proverbs 19:11 on a sticky note and tape it to my desk. Whenever I start to feel irritated or frustrated I read it. I’ve also added asking for peace to my daily prayers.

I’m interested if others have struggled with offense and peace. What helps you get through it?

My Top 5 Books of 2016

2016 was a great book year, I read a total 25 books this year and they were all good but I’ve narrowed it down to my top 5.

 

2016 was a great book year, I read a total 25 books this year and they were all good but I’ve narrowed it down to my top 5.

  1. The Line by J.D. Horn
    The Line is the story of Mercy Taylor a magic-less girl in a family of witches. After the family’s matriarch is murdered Mercy is thrown into the center of the upheaval that follows. This is book 1 in the Witching Savannah series.
    I listened to this book and it really made Horn’s writing come alive. This story kept me on the edge of my seat with its twist and turns. I loved the main character Mercy, she was strong and witty. I recommend this book for those of you who love fiction but may be looking for something different. Or those who love supernaturally themed books.
  2. All The Ugly And Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
    This novel follows the life of Wavy, the daughter of a meth dealer and a meth addict. She strikes up an unlikely friendship with Kellen one of her father’s thugs. As Wavy grows up their relationship changes into even more unlikely romance.
    This book grabbed me from page 1 if I’d had more time I likely would’ve read the book in a few days. Greenwood is the daughter of drug dealer herself and her writing was startling straightforward. She dived into the most depraved parts of her characters minds without hesitation. Wavy and Kellen were unique characters that I won’t soon forget.
  3. Helen Of Sparta by Amalia Carosella
    We all know Helen of Troy as the woman that empires warred over. But in this story we get to know Helen before she became that woman, when she was just Helen a willful princess of Sparta. Betrothed to a man of questionable sanity, Helen sets out to find a different husband. Men from far and near come to get a chance to marry the most beautiful woman in the world. But only one man steals her heart.
    I loved that someone finally thought to give Helen her own story apart from Troy. Carosella makes Helen out to be a woman who knows her own mind, desperate to be in control of her life. I admired her persistence for changing her fate when most woman in her position would’ve given up.
  4. The Mothers by Brit Bennett
    This story centers around 3 black teenagers in a tight knit church community in Southern California. Nadia, her best friend Aubrey, and her boyfriend Luke who also happens to be the pastors son. When Nadia finds out that she’s pregnant, her and Luke are faced with a tough decision. That decision will have lasting effects on everyone’s lives.
    Narrated by the “Mothers” of the church, I was drawn back to my own childhood in southern California when I went to a small black church. Brit Bennett is a masterful writer, every sentence was like a piece of poetry. She’s inspired a life long fan in me, I will be on the lookout for her next book.
  5. The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon
    Natasha & Daniel could not be more different, they’ve grown up in separate worlds but those worlds clash on one fateful day in New York City. But their new love is threatened by the fact that in 12 hours Natasha will be deported back to Jamaica.
    There were so many elements to this novel that made it more than you average love story. Not only did tell the story of Natasha & Daniel, but it also peered into the minds of the cast of characters they meet that day. Also interracial romances in YA books are kind of rare (Daniel is Korean) so it was a nice thing to see. I read that it will be turned into a movie, I hope it does the book justice because it was amazing.

What are some of your favorite book this year? And what are some of new releases your looking forward to in the 2017? 🙂

Goodbye 2016, We Won’t Miss You.

We have to live the best lives possible… The world is crazy and there’s no way to know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Let’s make 2017 the year we shrug off all our fear and anxieties, live passionately and purposely.

via Daily Prompt: Hopeful

 

2016 was an interesting year to say the least. The terrorist attacks in Europe and Orlando, the deteriorating situation in Aleppo, the shootings of black people by police and the shootings of police in reaction. Then there was the election, Brexit, the deaths of many pop culture icons, and that whole killer clown thing.
The general mood of 2016 was that it was a terrible year, that things are worse than they’ve ever been. Personally, this past year reminds me of that saying “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Because it’s always been this awful it’s just that now social media and 24 hours news cycles keep the bad news constantly in our faces. Black people have been killed unjustly for hundreds of years, wars where civilians are killed happen plenty, and America has seen it’s fair share of questionable presidential candidates. Death, lawlessness, hatred, murder are and have always  been apart of our world.
So what can we learn from this? What can we take from 2016 into the new year that’s beneficial?

We have to live the best lives possible… The world is crazy and there’s no way to know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Let’s make 2017 the year we shrug off all our fear and anxieties, and live passionately and purposely. Do the things that make you incandescently happy, offer your hand to a neighbor in need. I’m not talking about another meaningless resolution but an actual life change. Let’s not waste one more moment not loving our lives, because this is our only shot at this. Those people in war torn, impoverished countries could only dream of the opportunities that we have right in front of us.

This is not only a call to action to you but to myself as well. 2016 challenged me mentally, emotionally. I found myself depressed by the world and my place in it. I thought to myself “The days are passing so quickly, am I making the most of my time? ”
In the new year I vow to spend less time doing things out of obligation and more time doing things because I actually want to. I want to continue nurturing my gifts, and exploring my passions.

So what’s calling your name in the new year?

2017 is going to be a roller coaster so buckle up, put your hands up and enjoy the ride.