Month: June 2013

On the Real

Unlike the self-proclaimed nerds and geeks of today, growing up I was among the strictly unpopular, outcast nerd community (I’m saying growing up because I think I’m pretty cool now). During my seventh grade year, my family moved to another city and I began another school. In my eyes, this was the perfect opportunity to reinvent myself. There would be no more kids to tease me, no more girls to pull my freshly done braids, and definitely no one to make me eat dirt. I could enjoy my obsession with the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers in the comfort of my living room at four-thirty, but I had learned to never again tell another soul my secret. The past results of that mistake were too horrifying to even mention.

So, I entered this new school with my agenda set; make friends, keep friends, and play it cool. However, my parents had their own agenda and it involved enrolling me back in honors classes and band. My carefully constructed façade quickly gave way to most kids realizing I was still the geek.

Well, most of the kids…not all the kids…

Unlike my previous school, I began to meet kids that were just as awkward as I was. The biggest difference was these kids were okay with their awkwardness. It somehow gave me permission to be myself and let go of the image I thought I needed to keep up in order to fit in. It also left me with five of the best friends I ever had, other than my two sisters.

A few years ago, one of my friends reminded me how different I was when she first met me during the first week of school. She then told me how much she hated that person compared to the real me she has known for over fifteen years now. While I always respect her honesty, I was quite shocked that the image I thought I needed was indeed inauthentic to who I really am.

This conversation forced me to reflect on the perceptions we have of each other and the masks we wear when we think we must impress. As women, we think we must present a perfectly put together image of some form of ideal beauty and this will bring us the man of our dreams. Men, needing affirmation from friends, shun the girl that doesn’t fit the beauty standard set by someone even their own mother wouldn’t match up with. We look to others for validation that who we are is okay, never really asking our selves the same question. We become plastic boxes of nothing; easily molded under pressure to change and easily melted if left in the heat, constantly trying to fit into the norm. If this is our generation, who will dare be different enough to lead?

I am still the awkward, slightly nerdy girl who snorts when she laughs and with aging eyes, wears tortoise-shell glasses. And it’s okay. Not because it is now popular or cool to be a nerd. It’s okay because this is who I am and I accept me. The most beautiful thing about accepting yourself as you are? The right people will do the same. You won’t have to change your image or try to become someone else to please those that belong in your life. Even better, the wrong people have a way of disappearing when you refuse to conform.

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[My cat Kilala hides when I have a good snorting session]

Leave Your Yesterdays and Look Ahead

Last October I attended my ten-year high school reunion. I reconnected with old friends and we shared pictures, laughs and stories from what now seems like a fading dream. Many of us had not seen each other in years but it began to feel as if it had only been a few weeks. Understandably, I began to think about my past.

Later that night I flipped through my senior yearbook. As I looked through the signatures, sweet notes, and photos, I began to feel a mix of nostalgia and guilt. There I was at seventeen, staring back with a slight smile, an awkward build, and naïvely awaiting the possibilities of life ahead. I thought of the dreams this seventeen-year-old version of me had and I began to realize that I let her down. The goals she fought for have not come to pass and many seem to have stalled out along the way. What would she say if I told her she was still broke, single, childless, trying to earn a degree and a little socially awkward?

As many of my friends and I draw closer to this impossibly frightening milestone of thirty, there is the temptation to compare ourselves not to each other, but to our former selves. It is very easy to look back and think, “I wish I could have…” or “Why didn’t…?” However, what we always miss in these questions is the present purpose of our life. It is true that we must run our race without looking to others, but I believe we must also be careful when comparing our present to out past. We do not wake up one day and suddenly we’re adults. Growth and maturity is a gradual process cultivated through the trials that we have endured along the way without giving up.

I look back to my twenties as I approach this threshold with the knowledge that everything I have experienced has only served to prepare me for this next decade of life. It is in this coming age that I truly hope to get married and have children. Of course I could have been married, had a child or two and settled by now. Sure I could have begged on my knees for a guy to stay with me. Maybe I could have surrendered not only my intrinsic values but sacrificed the fabric of who I am all in hopes of “keeping a man.” There is even the slight shame of explaining to one grandparent why I am not in a relationship, what I plan to do about it, and when will someone please give birth to a male great-grandchild in her lifetime.

However, if I listen to all of this and internalize it without a frame of reference, I lose the lessons my twenties taught me. Yeah, I could have even become desperate and gone out with a guy that I knew was not my type, actually liked my sister, and really only wanted one thing all in the name of “saving my eggs”, but I did not and I never will.

And neither should you.

Fear has a way of forcing us into a corner and making decisions that will hurt us much more in the future than the present. Fear can magnify an insignificant bump into a large mountain that we think is the end of our journey. Fear can make a last resort seem like the only option. Fear is real, it is powerful, and should not be taken with flippant pride. Looking at these options from a rational mind paints them in the radical and extreme lights in which they are shaded. I do not regret the detours because they help us to avoid large potholes, road construction, or even worse, an unfinished bridge. Should God bless me with a family, I now have more patience and love for those future children, not resentment that they will keep me from something I think is greater or better. Should God bless me to reach my career goals, I have more compassion and understanding for the people coming behind me to help lift them to my level. I would like to think these lessons would have come no matter what road that seventeen-year-old had taken, but I am not wise enough to make this statement. The sun has already set on yesterday and we do not know if the sun will rise tomorrow. We only have this present time in our possession. Learning from our past is advantageous, but we cannot become consumed with thoughts of regret and wishes for former futures not reached. If that seventeen-year-old had done everything her way, many of the lessons learned and people who crossed her path through the past twelve years would not have come. The road ahead will present itself with enough to tend to. It is all that we can do but to move forward and stay in drive. The rearview mirror is for looking back and unless you are in reverse, it doesn’t do anyone on the road any good for you to continue watching what is behind you.

“We are Living Single”

There was a discussion yesterday evening I had in a bible class that lead to this topic. I love this message because it gets lost when we become anxious and nervous about things yet to come. We begin to look around and we often lose our focus on the present time we are in. God calls us to live without worry, without care, and without want for anything. If you are still single at a certain age, be of good courage and continue to serve God in Faith without despair or want for another human being. It gets tough at times, but don’t live in despair because what you see and want are not coming “fast enough” or you feel like you are “running out of time”. And to my wonderful fellow “single ladies” of our generation: please remember that you are single until marriage, no matter how boo’d up you think you are. This is a time of preparation, so be sure you are using it wisely. Let go of the fear and be sure that you prepare your life, your mind and your heart to not only love that person, but to allow them to truly love you in turn.
Peace and love
-KTE

The video above is from http://www.youtube.com/user/chaseGodtv. Check out his channel, it has some great nuggets of gold.

Knowing Who You Can Take With You and When You Cannot Go With Them

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As we progress through life and the stages thereof, people will begin to weave into our story and we will inevitably weave into their story. Some of these will be people who stay until the end and others will truly only be in our lives for a short season. Too often we want to keep the people in our lives that were only meant for a short time. They usually forced us to grow in an area; some taught us to love deeply, some taught us to live outside ourselves and some showed us that life is not always kind. It is important to know one person from the other and when to let go.
Some of this has been said before and becomes cliché. However, what is usually not said to us is the opposite: you must also know when you must leave. This is not the vain “I have grown tired of this friendship/relationship” leaving. This is the loving way of allowing your friends and family to grow beyond where you are. To do this one truly must step outside of her wants and recognize when the other person is stretching beyond where they both are at the moment. It takes an honest self-awareness that many of us do not have in youth.
I mentioned that my two sisters are both leaving to go in different directions this fall. One of my sisters is moving to NYC and the other to DC. A few weeks ago, one of my sisters and I went out with a few friends. One of my friends pulled me aside as we were standing on the sidewalk outside the restaurant. He asked me why I had not considered going to New York with my sister. I dismissed him, as he is a native New Yorker and partial to the decision. He pressed the issue by giving valid reasons for the move and I began to think about it.
Why was I against going?
The more I thought about it, the more I began to realize that it was not for me to go with either of my sisters. It was my sister who dreamed of a job in New York, not I. It was my sister who was accepted to a graduate program in DC, not I.
Over the next week, my mother asked the same question and even insisted that she and my father would feel better if I went with my sister to New York or at least accompanied my other sister to DC. At this point I began to understand the hesitation I felt.
These are not my moves and they are not my paths. These are not the places I can go. I have to let them go alone. I have to let them run their races.
Being the oldest, in all that my sisters do I support them. However, their goals are not my goals, their dreams are not my dreams and most importantly, their paths are not my path.
From high school through college I have met some great and wonderful people. But many of these people have moved beyond where we first met. On the other hand, I have moved beyond where we first met. We may talk occasionally, however the path set before us began to diverge. It is important to recognize when and where that path diverges in a relationship and understand that you may not be able to follow their path. The load we carry may exceed the limit of the road ahead of them, and we could cause harm to everyone as we try to cross the bridges on that road. We are called to run our race, not our brother’s or sister’s. So, lay aside every weight and run your race on your path. Don’t look around at others because their race is not yours. Keep your eyes fixed on your goal and trust that God will give you what you need to finish the race, fight the battles, and jump over the rocks that line your path. We should never forget that sometimes the roads diverge, but if we were striving for a common goal of love, they will share common intersections. No, I may not be able to come with you. We each have a journey that is unique to us alone.

GOD IS (NOT) MY BUDDY – Nov. 22th

Really good post. Sometimes we put God into a box. This is great to keep into perspective when we start to feel our small issues on planet earth are so big and important. Excellent!

A DEVOTED LIFE

“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! Psalm 33:4

It seems like most people have a very similar tendency.  If we are shown an image enough times we begin to accept it as real even when we know it is a caricature. Caricatures are used all the time to help communicate a point. I have seen characteristics exaggerated to highlight what can be overlooked. I have also seen caricatures used to simplify that which is hard to fathom.  The problem is when the caricature becomes so engrained that we begin to believe the distortion.

Most of us are familiar with maps of the United States…

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Social Sharing: Stop Telling Everyone Your Business and Get a Life!

Last year I left Facebook and never looked back. I had a page for private use (if possible) and a public author’s page. I permanently deleted both. I do not have a Twitter account and I never understood the purpose of Instagram.

I am not completely against ‘social media’. I have a Google plus account that I use to talk to my sisters in real-time. Due to a terrible mishap with my phone after Christmas, and the idea that Verizon has of me spending a few hundred dollars on another one, I don’t make many phone calls anymore. So, Google plus has been a great way to communicate with my sisters, one who is leaving for NYC soon and the other who is leaving to complete her graduate studies in DC. If I should end up where I would like, it would mean over 7000 miles between the three of us. And these two ladies are my first and only bestest friends forever in the world.

I know the ugly side of sharing too much, however. The reason for taking down my Facebook page was a part of it. But it seems that our generation (and some above it) is so tightly linked to the online presence that the absence of an online profile creates mystery and suspicion. We check out profiles before we agree to a date, have entire relationships online, and share EVERYTHING about ourselves to our five hundred closest friends. We watch our lives play out in cyberspace, with breakups happening to an audience of thousands, and what would normally be a simple even break becoming the awkward “unfriending” and careful editing before the next love interest arrives. Then there are the complete over sharers, who must tell us everything they are doing from the moment they open their eyes to the moment they are ready to fall asleep.

But here is the thing: you do not have five hundred friends. You may know five hundred people, but how many of those five hundred really care when you are in bed with the flu and need someone to take you to urgent care? Probably less than five hundred.

Okay, so your five hundred followers love you. Well do you love them? How many times have you “silenced” all but a few of the most random posts to get to the ones you really care about? Well, why are they still your “friends”?

Even when I was on Facebook, I always remembered what my mom told me after I somewhat learned the hard way: “You can’t tell everyone what you are going to do.” It should be common sense, but just take a look at your Facebook page and you will see not many of us have it. Yet again, you do not have five hundred friends. Not everyone in your circle is there to cheer you on, and most of them can simply become a distraction. If you tell everyone everything, what happens if some of those “friends” are not really on your side?

I don’t mean to condemn here, but I have watched our generation become consumed by vanity and narcissism. And I don’t think we may grow out of it simply because we turn thirty. What would really happen if you stopped ‘checking up’ on your friends every hour? Even worse, what would happen if you just left the smart phone home and went for a walk on the beach, the park…wherever you live? It doesn’t mean taking my 1990s approach of “please call the house phone” and “email me” only, however I can’t think of a time when I was less distracted…okay well, besides the late 90s and early 2000s. I don’t know about you all, but in all honesty I don’t care what my Internet friends ate for dinner. My real friends and I were too busy going out for dinner and sharing real conversation with each other.

 

“Under Sunset Skies”

I wrote this three years ago and it is now in a compilation of poetry I’ve published:

Somewhere over the rainbow
Exists a life unknown to us now.
Somewhere there is light that heals
It will shine and lift up our souls.
Blue skies will expand for eternity,
Green grass will grow forever in our lands.
Somewhere in another place,
So far from what I can see now,
There are people who smile with their hearts
There are children who laugh from their soul.
All of this in a place we know not.
That place is so far from what we know,
Because it does not seem possible to us.
We’ve become blinded by life’s failures,
We’ve become disillusioned with life’s fate.
I get up and I fall down, 
Never knowing how much more I can take.
Now, I look off in the horizon,
And now I see the sun’s rays fading.
Someday I will meet you there,
Someday I will see you again.
If you can only wait just a little while longer,
If you can only be patient, and think of me.
Keep my place warm 
I am on my way home.
To that place where we will dance 
Under the Son.