Thursday, February 20, 2014

I am Second.

I like to blog and I like to write. But lately I’ve been stuck in a bit of writer’s block. I’ll sit down and start to write what I think is going to be the next gripping blog post that is going to attract hundreds of thousands of readers to my blog...or maybe just fifty readers...or maybe only ten...and then about a third of the way through I lose interest in what I’m writing about. Or I think that it’s just not that interesting. But for the sake of promising my students to write the same assignment that they have and sharing it with them (ONLY if they all get it done), I’m going to try and plow to completion.


Today in class we watched a video of Sean Lowe and what “I am Second” means to him. Recently Sean was on the reality TV show, “The Bachelorette” and then later “The Bachelor.” Along with being a participant comes the tabloids and the scrutiny of every aspect of your life. He talked about how before going on the show his professional life had crumbled and the challenges that came along with that. He looked at becoming The Bachelor as a door that God was opening to him, even as he struggled through filming with whether or not what he was doing was right.


Sean was very open about why he is the way he is. The driving force in his life is Jesus. Jesus is the center of Sean’s life and the reason for the decisions that Sean makes. Recently a friend of mine told me that she enjoys hanging out with me because I talk so openly about God and his role in my life. She told me that she struggles with that...being open and honest about the role that God plays in your life.


As we go through life, we have many opportunities that helps to grow as individuals. Successes. Failures. Disappointments. Experiences. All of these opportunities provide us with a wide variety of emotions that help us to decipher what we as people see as positive and negative experiences, which in turn teach us about ourselves. As you learn about yourself, you start to become more comfortable with certain aspects of your life. For me, that comfort came when I was working in an environment where, initially, it felt like everyone was different from me. But everyone was willing to learn about me, who I was, and what I stood for. And it was their open mindedness about me, that really encouraged me to accept myself and be proud and confident in who I am. To be comfortable in sharing with them who I am, and why I am.


And so I’m just me. I try to live my life as an honest reflection of who I am. 


Who am I?


I am a daughter.
I am a sister.
I am an aunt.
I am a friend.
I am a listener.
I am a talker.
I am a runner.
I am a finisher.
I am a realist.
I am an optimist.
I am a work in progress.
I am a seeker.
I am a teacher.
I am a student.
I am a baker.
I am a musician.
I am a director.
I am a fighter.
I am a leader.
I am a follower.
I am a dreamer.

But it all of these things…

I am Second.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

hurricane

i don't know.
so many unknowns.

if i...then...
but if i...then...

how do i fit.
where do i fit.
is it supposed to fit.

questions. without answers.
so much time that's never enough.

where to turn.

step.

the june that got away

Some days
I want to stop time.
And pause.

One blink
one day.
Another day
another memory.

I try to take it all in.
Hold it in and close to my heart.

The sand
slips
through my fingers.

And no matter how I try to catch it
or make it stop
it continues to fall
to the beach.

The sand will never be the same.
To pick it up
again
will never be the same.

New
and different.

But always sand.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sage Words of Wisdom to Myself...la deuxième partie

Last year on October 1, 2012 I wrote a blog with Sage Words of Wisdom to Myself. Today, a little over 13 months later, I went back and re-read what I wrote. Some of the things made me laugh (I really do write like I talk/think) and some made me stop and think. I'm so glad I did this a little over a year ago, I decided that I would make it an annual post. Enjoy!

Dear 30 year old Andrea,

You've made it through almost an entire year of being 30. It wasn't that scary, was it? And I bet some pretty amazing things have happened over the course of the last year. So in honor of turning 31, here are some reminders for you.

1- Be patient with the freshman, even when you haven't had your coffee. Growing up into an adult isn't easy, usually takes a long time, and includes some bumps along the way. Give them patience, but also help them as they grow and show them the way.

2- You need to make exercise a priority. I know it's hard when the school year starts up. But it will make you a better person for the rest of the world. Remember how amazing you feel after a really hard work out? Yeah, it's totally worth it.

3- Failures are successes in learning what not to do. Don't let a failure discourage you...use it as energy to encourage you.

4- Love. This is one from your letter to your 29 year old self. Turns out at 28 you were kinda smart when it comes to this kind of thing. Don't ever be regretful for loving someone. Even when those feelings aren't returned romantically. People are what really matter in this life, and everyone needs to have love in it.

5- Be flexible. People appreciate this more than you know. You'll know this because so many people aren't, and they'll be really thankful that you are. Go with the flow.

6- Along with #5, stand your ground when necessary, but be thoughtful and gentle when doing so. It's not your way or the highway. We're all on the road together. The things you do should be an encouragement to others along the way.

7- Detox from coffee every once and awhile. Don't make your life dependant on it. Realize, though, it's much better with it!

8- Electronic detox. You didn't do very well at this in 2013. Keep trying. Start small...one hour a week. work up to turning off your phone for an entire vacation.

9- TAKE A VACATION. Seriously. One that includes the beach and sun and not much more. It's called mental health...and you NEED that. You'll thank me later.

10- If you haven't, finish your masters degree already.

11- New York is a place where you feel alive. Go visit Hannah already. Lovebuckets have to stick together.

12- Naan and humus make a super tasty dinner. Enjoy it.

13- Stay close with Chrysta. She keeps your head on straight, holds you accountable for your actions, but knows how to have fun too. She's a rare breed.

14- Don't ever forget about your girlfriends. They're there through it all. They constantly help you back up when you fall and skin your knees.

15- Practice simple acts of random kindness. One person can make a difference and change the world.

16- Wash your car regularly and vacuum it out. Grandma car needs a good cleaning every now and then. Plus it will make you feel like you have your life more together than you actually do.

17- When it comes to the men in your life, always keep them well fed. They are much more functionable when they have happy tummies.

18- Keep writing one of these every year that you're alive. Share it with the world.

19- You still need to take that trip to Paris. Get a jar. Start saving. Don't let anything make you dip into the jar.

20- Get your Target card paid off. Once your balance is gone, you are only allowed to spend what you can pay off each month. The interest rate is ridiculously high. Don't let them take your hard-earned money like that.

21- Take five minutes of every day for yourself. It's not that much time, and if you can't find five minutes to do something you love, your life needs some re-adjusting.

22- There's always tomorrow. Work hard today, but tomorrow is a fresh start every day.

23- Try. You know what I'm talking about. It's gonna be hard. But you need to try to try. Even when you don't want to. Just keep trying. Someone much higher up never gives up on you. So TRY.

24- Blog more often. You enjoy writing. Don't be afraid to share it with the world.

25- Do the best you can. Be gentle on yourself and others.

26- Read. This is another thing that you love to do. You should do it more often. Try to.

27- Don't bottle up relationship frustrations. Learn to let go and let God. He's got it in control. That doesn't mean stop using your brain. It just means stop trying to control what you can't control. Use all the opportunities that you have right now in their fullest capacities.

28- Defy expectations. Show love to someone when they don't deserve it. Show patience when you've just about run out. Show compassion when the frustrations are seeping out your temples. Defy the expectations.

29- Allow yourself Magnum bars only during The Bachelor/Bachelorette. These are sacred treats. Remember to treat them as such.

30- You age is a number. Just like your shoe size. Or your weight. Or your height. Don't let it (or anything else) define how you feel about yourself. If you feel good about yourself, feel that. And be strong in it.

31- Learn from the past, live in the present, and work for the future.

Live. Laugh. Love.

Friday, November 15, 2013

What's your reflection?

What's your reflection?

Have you ever wondered what your life looks like from the outside. When other people look at you, what do they see? Is that an accurate reflection of what's really on the inside?

With the rise in prominence that Facebook has taken over the last nine years (can you believe it's been that long?), it has truly changed the way that we interact with one another...across the world. Of course, it's really just one piece of the social media puzzle.
Twitter, Vine, Instagram, Tinder, Yahoo, Flickr, LinkedIn, and the list goes on and on. Everyday they shape our perception of reality.

When I was growing up (which is about to make me sound old), cameras used film. You had to be selective about what you took pictures of because to see each picture, you had to pay to get it developed. If your shirt was untucked or hair looked lopsided or your smile was weird, you wouldn't actually discover that until you had your film developed. And this was usually several weeks after the event occurred, preserving your imperfections just as they were.

Now? Digital cameras. Photoshop. On the go photo editing. You can have that perfectly white smile (that you don't really have) with a quick swipe across the screen. The wind made your hair look weird? Don't worry, just retake it (because you checked to make sure it turned out as soon as you took it). That angle made you look like you had a double chin? Just take it again and hold the camera higher. And then...facebook it. Or Instagram it. Or tweet it. Now that you have achieved what you perceive to be a socially acceptable representation of what's going on it your life, it's time to share that with the world.

It's not just the pictures, it's the posts. The words you use. What do your words say about you? Are you passive aggressively posting song lyrics because you hope that one person will read it and know you're really directing it at them? Is the language you chose to display an accurate reflection of the person you truly are inside, or is it a show for your friends? Do you really think you're going to attract someone worthy of what you deserve by airing out your disappointment as a relationship doesn't work out the way that you wanted? Are you checking into a place and tagging someone you're with just because you know someone else is going to see it and be upset by it?

Where is the honesty of reality in all of this?

I've always promised to be honest in my blog posts. Even when it's uncomfortable. (See the one where I got fat) And if I'm being honest, I know I've done most of those things at one point or another. Readily admitting it. I'm not any better than anyone else. And you know what? When you passively aggressively post, most people will passively aggressively ignore you. Or confront you...and it won't be pleasant. And when you post crude things, people will attribute crudeness as one of your character attributes. And I can't say for sure, but I think people are generally attracted to positive people.

But it's just Facebook, right? It's not real.

What's the first thing you do in the morning? I usually reach over, turn off the alarm on my phone, and then open up Twitter for my morning news. In less than five minutes I know the headlines from the New York Times, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and Today's TMJ4. I know what the weather is going to be like for the day, who won the football game from the night before, and what my cousin is wearing today (thanks Snapchat). At this point I usually roll onto my back, delete my junk emails, and scroll my Facebook feed to see what happened overnight. And we've all had that moment. You know the one where you see that a certain someone "liked" one of your pictures...and it makes your morning. Or maybe you see a picture of your friend's toddler who "made their first poopy in the big boy/girl potty...and breakfast no longer seems like such a good idea. I've been awake for ten minutes, the smell of coffee percolating is starting to dance from the kitchen to my bedroom, and the tone for my day has been set by people's posts on what I perceive to be their reality based on what they've shared. All without even leaving the comforts of my bed. And how I feel is very real.

I'm not saying I'm any better than anyone else. I'm not directly this blog post at anyone. I'm directing at me. I'm directing it at all of us. People are fragile and resilient and beautiful and flawed and confused and excited and everything in between. And it's ok to share that. And like it. And tweet it. And favorite it. That's real.

Reflections are scary. You can't fake a reflection. What you see it what you get. Are you being honest with what your reflection shows? What does your reflection say about you?

My favorite pictures are the blurry ones. It's when people are the most real. The blur. The laughter. The movement. The double chins. The slightly discolored teeth. The messed up hair. That's real. And scary. And as Bruno Mars so aptly puts it...that's what makes you beautiful.



Live. Laugh. Love.