22 December 2013

fiction

Quote: Mason Cooley
If you were to ask me how in the world I became so smart {smileys}, I would tell you it's simple. I read. I love to read. However, this was not always the case.

I did not initially like it but I followed my mother's instructions to read until my outlook changed. I didn't understand but one day it finally happened. This jaunt down memory lane is not as random as it may first appear. 

I recently finished reading "Following Polly" by KarenBergreen. I thoroughly enjoyed the book! I compared my experience of this book to the first time, long ago, when I read a Janet Evanovich, Stephanie Plum novel. That's a big compliment.

This post is not a book review, although I may present one later for grins and giggles. I'm writing rather excitedly because I realized after finishing it in less than 24 hours that I was fiction starved. Is it the greatest book ever? I don't think it was vying for that position but that's not the point.

The magic of fiction is that it takes you places you ordinarily are unable to go. It breaks you out of routine. It brings adventure to you in the safe comfort of wherever you are. I needed that. The life of a full-time student is a fun one but I have a tendency to become all broody and serious when I need to take time to enjoy the experience. Sometimes for me to enjoy the fun of my 'real' life I have to see it through the 'pseudo' life eyes of a well-developed character.

This seems silly as I type but many creatives understand it's time with other creatives that spurs greatness on. Somehow I was MIA in my own agenda. I was still reading but I hadn't read a stitch of fiction in I don't know how long.

And although I watched some good shows lately: Castle, Fullmetal Alchemnist: Brotherhood, Rin, Agents of Shield, Sherlock, Dr. WHO,  many of which are fantasy based, it's different when you watch character development rather than reading it. In any case all of this to say I'm back in the fiction zone and I'm loving it.


Oh how longingly I have missed thee and return now with youthful glee!

19 December 2013

all the world's a stage

Florida Theater/ Devan Stuart
This is all a well thought out play. There are many scenes and acts occurring simultaneously on a grand stage. Open your eyes, see that you have to adjust and listen carefully to better play your part. Step to your mark alongside this cast and give the performance of your life!

Don't be afraid of every detractor who comes along the way. Even those on the stage with you. The ones who think they know better than the playwright/director. They aren't  listening anymore so they attempt to shame you and bring contempt but it is just a distraction.

Listen to those who have been on stage longer who know how to follow a good lead. The seasoned ones who help you to hone your craft, honor structure and guide you in discipline. They know how to go outside seeming confines without derailing the show. These make both you and the overall performance better.

Always remember and find strength in the fact the director chose you. He wants to work with you and groom you for greatness. Follow the script no matter what others say. It's an ancient play but the words are still powerful and alive.

Pay attention to the fire inside you as it resonates with the script. You've been given all you need. Get out there and give it your all; don't ever hold back!

Be assured many will find fault with your actions, timing, delivery, even your voice. But why step out on the stage in the first place? Is it really just for approval or is it because you're called to this? Are you solely looking for adoration or do you believe you have something to say and a part to play in a way that only you can portray it?

In the play of life will you try to please everyone in every crowd or will you simply trust the director, the value of the script, and the power of the fire within? You decide.

04 November 2013

life

Today I'm tired of being poor, unemployed and judged negatively for it. I'm tired of pat answers and doubts. I spent four years in college as a young adult and I'm now almost one full year into my return.

I didn't go to college for this to be my life. I didn't 'sow' for this. I don't read the kind of things I read and work to implement them to have this life. I'm not perfect or any kind of angel. I have made major mistakes.

The biggest one? Being afraid to take risks whether in relationships or work or in stepping out to promote myself. I always think I could use a little more preparation, I could be just a bit better before I make that next move.

What's the 'opportunity' section of my life look like? I need to:

  • stop being so damned cautious all the time. 
  • be disciplined more so with time than money. 
  • to loosen up on the inside as much as I appear to have on the outside. 
  • take the freaking leap sometimes. 
  • trust that I've been given what I need. Trust. 
  • like myself half as much as I project that I do. 
  • just go ahead and go all in and connect with MY dreams again even if that means more failure and more rejection until I'm living those dreams out and on to the next ones.
  • accept me. I am pretty freaking amazing after all.


I have done many things and will continue to learn and grow and better myself. I give my all and work ridiculously hard when I do work. Even when I volunteer, I give until I feel like I can't, then I give just a little more.

I tend to learn on the fly in the midst of  hard choices. When the options are limited to sink or swim. It's then that I learn I have a powerful backstroke. Maybe it's not pretty, but it gets the job done. Life is like that, choices and last minute decisions even when you've done your best to prepare.

You know the thing is, life doesn't care. It has always been unfair and that crazy mixture of hurry up and wait. I try to play with the cards dealt. I try not to complain. Today I'm not doing so well. Today I'm tired. Today I want a break.

Although I'm frustrated I'm still grateful. And no, not because it could be worse. I'm just grateful because God is God even when I don't understand. I'm grateful for a relationship with Him. Life may not make sense. I don't have answers to the "whys" and "hows" but I have Him and that takes care of my need.


Picture credit: www.quakeroats.com

15 August 2013

comfortable (now what?)


I did not share this scene from the script of my life just to stroll down memory lane. This is personal, somewhat embarrassing and a little uncomfortable. I share it because I know what it’s like when everything seems to be wrong. I know that vulnerable, weak place where so much seems lost. I hope this helps someone to know nothing is worth trading the comfort of the One and Only God. I didn’t pass that particular test, not at all. But I did learn about triggers, my personal points of weakness that can lead to bad decisions.

Four weeks ago I returned to the scene of all of this. It's years later and the characters are all different except the leading lady whose current situation could be seen as a place of weakness. I’m not perfect now either, but I have grown. I’ve learned there is an odd place of comfort in the midst of my greatest discomfort.  I am learning how to boast in my weaknesses, for in my weakness He is proven strong and He helps me to grow.

Right now I am moving forward and acceleration is happening in my life. Certain connections are being made and I’m acquiring new skills at an almost alarming rate to move toward my current goal. I’m launching my business for copy writing, editing and freelance journalism soon. I am also making new friends and strengthening old bonds.

Yes it’s a lot all at once and it requires a great amount of faith. After all, this is all happening on a college student’s budget. That is enough to cause a major meltdown and freak out session. But I am looking to the Comforter for help, strength, decisions and direction.

Fourteen years ago, I could have just told God, “I’m hurt and unhappy. I don’t know what to do. Please help me.” But I didn’t know how to do that. It really is that simple though to talk to Him. That’s what I hope anyone who has braved this historical document will take away.

God is Comfort in the midst of any darkness or uncertainty: loss of a relationship, loss of a job, death of a loved one, times of transition, financial instability, tough decisions for your business, family issues, etc. No matter what comes God is there not only with great love and comfort but also peace and direction.

As a young woman I was willing to compromise everything for a modicum of comfort in a moment of weakness. But now as a mature one I can confidently tell you I know Him Who is my Comfort and I rely on Him daily for every good thing.


image found at Living Healthy Together

08 August 2013

comfortable (a compromise)


The room was dark. I only had the hazy glow of the building's exterior light to assist with sight, although I didn't need it as my eyes were pretty much closed. I leaned in closer and adjusted there on his lap.  Here it was a cold Saturday night and we were warming things up the old fashioned way. He held me steady with one hand and the other was let's say wandering while he kissed me deeply. We went on like that for a while before he said we should move to be more comfortable.

I had a brief moment to ask myself, "What in the world am I doing and how did I end up here?" but soon most of my rational thought exited the premises. Note: mostly not completely. The he was Alex, the only man to be that intimately close to me. We'd just turned 22, were not in love and were searching for comfort.

Before I move on to what didn't happen once we crossed that threshold, I would like to address how I allowed myself to get there. As I explained previously, Alex and I parted ways at 16. I saw him for a brief moment at 18 before he went to UT Austin and I went to UT Arlington. We were in different places physically, spiritually and emotionally. And I bet he was not thinking about me just as much as I was not thinking about him.

I always dreamed of going far away to school but remained in the Dallas area. I didn't have my own vehicle so I couldn’t just go home, or anywhere, whenever the urge struck. So here I was in Arlington, Texas, the transition town between Dallas and Fort Worth where so many major attractions stand. My first night there a group of us went to a movie and friendships began that would be incredible bonds even to this day.

The next day we met for church and to be honest, I don't remember much. But the midweek service three days later I have certain details of. It was at a local recreation center, the weather was Texas warm, there was so much joy in the air, and I met this guy who was part of the campus ministry who would become a close friend. OK, I think you may be able to see where this is going.

His name, Brandon (changed this time to protect the innocent, well mostly), and I guess technically this was our second meeting. He was a counselor at my freshman orientation that summer, although it was he who would remind me of that later. He was just shy of 6 feet tall, straight brown hair, brown eyes, a bit scrawny and a total geek. Now understand, it took me a while to notice everything but the geek part. He and I became fast friends.

I don't have time to develop the story of our budding romance but the CliffsNotes version goes a bit like this. Brandon and I went on a few dates and I always enjoyed the time I spent with him. He would often drive my roommate and me to church and other locations as needed and we talked -- the usual university student, campus ministry stuff.

One night as I was spending time with my friend, Lori (yep, name changed), she asked the question that changed everything, "How long have you liked Brandon?"

I think I managed the very intelligent "Huh?" as my answer. I was shocked, a bit lost, a lot confused and felt the sudden urge to exit a moving vehicle. Then I managed to laugh.

"I'm very serious," she said, responding to my unspoken question. "It's obvious the way you look at him when you two talk, and come on, how many times has he asked you out now and you say 'yes' every time?" I continued to deny but became more uncomfortable with each denial although I didn't understand why. "Deny all you want girl but you like him."

Six months later I admitted defeat. I don’t remember the exact circumstance but I was aware the idea of him with another girl didn’t work for me. And if you think six months is a long time, it took him more than a year after that to understand how he felt about me. We were both rather clueless. We met in the summer of 1995, and on the last day of 1997, Brandon finally asked me to be his girlfriend.

As the story goes we had something special in my humble opinion. Initially some were shocked at our pairing; we are two very different people. And thank God we already had a great friendship because we needed that foundation. I was young and stupid; I did and said crazy stuff and if I didn’t know better I would say I was a terrible girlfriend, but I do know better. We had a lot of fun together, learned about life, leadership, and I know I came to understand the importance of someone else’s dreams, (good) expectations and feelings. I was challenged by him to allow myself to be more feminine — he wanted others to see that side of me.

In the midst of all that, I think it's called growing up, something amazing happened – I fell in love. I loved him so much, I didn't understand it and I definitely wasn't expecting it. Before you call me names, understand I was only 21 and very career- and ministry-oriented. Falling in love that young with my first adult boyfriend after only nine months was nowhere in my day planner, scheduler or plan before graduation. I actually wanted to marry him and yes it was another friend who pulled that truth out of me.

I didn't know whether to be happy or cry. I was back in that odd place of shock, a bit lost and a lot confused. There were so many other things going on at that time too. School was very difficult, and for the first time in years I was dealing with temper issues that I was sure I had mastered. Some of my friends were afraid of me. I was moving from one small group to another at church, attempting to settle in somewhere, I was working and I began to perform poorly in school. I began to see a counselor and take medication; depression had set in.

Shortly after my confession of wanting to be Mrs. Brandon Norman I broke up with him. I was afraid to lose him because of all of the craziness that was going on in my life. I didn’t consciously end it as a preemptive strike, but somewhere inside I feared he would leave me like some of my other friends. I thought I wouldn’t be able to take it so in a moment of intense anger I ended it.

Unfortunately there were people around and it was ugly. I hated myself even more and questioned my sanity. The next few months were dark and troubling. I felt as though I was losing my mind and my friends. Not just anybody either, my brothers and sisters from church. This was scary; I was afraid of who I'd become and didn't understand what was going on inside me.

Within a few months some of my friends began to marry, and those who were already married began having babies. I wasn't jealous, I just had the desire to participate in the fun and games, too, but felt as though I destroyed my chance. I lost my closest friend, Brandon, and I was the third wheel with other friends. I was depressed, felt alone and I was terribly uncomfortable.

One week after my best friend's wedding (seven months post break-up) I was in the computer lab working on a paper for history of interior design or some such when I looked up just as Alex walked in. He smiled, that one that melted my teen-aged heart so many times and made his way over to a terminal near me. I politely smiled back and made small talk. After all, we were old friends.

This wasn't our first meeting. He transferred to UTA during our sophomore year, prior to Brandon and I dating. We saw each other near the Activities Building one day and that was about it. I went to a movie with him for his birthday, but other than that I stayed away from him. A friend suggested I not get close just to be on the safe side. She said it may seem cruel but I would later understand that it was for the best.

So as we sat there talking, my personal emergency warning system was going crazy. Every sign of trouble was blinking and telling me to keep it light and go back to my paper. I think I even made a slight attempt to do so. But it was late and I was tired and uncomfortable with my state in life, and he represented a memory of comfort.

Any time he stepped away I agreed to keep an eye on his things and any time I walked away I know what he was keeping his eye on. I don't know when exactly I learned the rules of seduction but here I was playing this game like a pro. At some point I gathered my things and headed home but a seed had already been planted in me. Again I think I tried to resist but it wasn’t a real fight.

I saw him again the next night at the lab. Nothing happened, we worked diligently and went our separate ways. The next Friday, even without communicating we were at the lab at the same time. When I turned and said goodnight he leaned in and kissed me. Just a quick one on the cheek and another soft one on the lips.

The sirens were wailing in my head and I heard the warnings: “Stop!” “What are you doing?” “He is not who you want!” “This is dangerous!” But I smiled and winked as I walked away letting him know I understood what he had not said.

Saturday night my roommates went off to work and I was back in the lab grateful they wouldn’t notice my absence. I had no intention of going home because I was searching for the comfort I was so desperate for.

I knew it wasn't real. I knew I didn't have any feelings for Alex and I knew what he wanted to feel, but I didn't care. What happened to my unwavering commitment to God? Where was my resolve to remain pure and faithful in the face of temptation? At that moment all the pain and shame I felt for my failings left me almost desensitized.

I was facing challenges in my life without trusting God. I was caught up in the lie that I was a failure and only able to hurt the ones I loved. I was grieving over my poor choices. On the stage of reality the script didn’t play out the way I'd always imagined and I was ready for a rewrite.

So that night I was in Alex's apartment where this story began. Believe it or not, we did not consummate the relationship that we didn’t have. I am not proud of what did happen that night or the days prior to it. But even in that place of compromised discomfort I couldn’t go through with it. As much as I physically desired to have him fully, I couldn’t overcome the spiritual and emotional implications. But at the end of the day I was definitely willing to compromise for the sake of my own comfort.


Afterword
This is the end of the history section. The final part will discuss what I learned and why I decided to share this. Thank you for your extra time this week.

25 July 2013

love the foreign language: part 3, the explanation


I’ve had years of Spanish classes, had a basic introduction to Hebrew, have a program to learn Japanese and desire to learn Greek. But of all the languages available to learn Love makes me the most nervous.

Call me na├»ve, clueless, jaded or whatever else you can come up with but until recently I’ve had a bit of a block in this area. In a sense what the person said about me being like a kid who doesn’t understand the concept is true. I know Love, we’re close friends. I love my family and friends intensely but when it comes to romantic involvement, it may as well be Greek because I don’t understand that guy at all.

One of the beautiful things about learning another language is the humility it requires. We are so uncomfortable in foreign language classrooms because we are vulnerable, don’t know what we’re doing and are very aware that we don’t know. We hope we’re partnered with the correct person to practice this thing and grow to communicate as well as a native speaker.

Learning to speak another language requires submission and a willingness to be taught and to do so alongside someone else. In those early stages there is no way around looking or sounding silly because everything has to be learned and then learned again in context. We are always growing in what we learn, never quite arriving at some mythic plateau of linguistic mastery.

We have to trust our instructor to guide us along a good path and interact with our partner on the given terms for that language. We have to move beyond our discomfort, believe the instructor is not setting us up to fail and be willing to not only look out for our own interests but those of our partner as well. After all, it’s better if we can move forward together. This all takes a certain amount of faith in our instructor and our partner as well as a commitment to believe this team is there with us to benefit not harm us even when it’s difficult.

By now I’ve either confused your socks off or you can see the parallel and why I think of Love as a foreign language. Sure in the beginning it’s all happy fairies and pheromones but at some point you get to two exits past reality setting in and trust has to be developed and bonds created in order to move forward.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m too proud to learn the language or unwilling to submit to the Instructor’s terms. It’s not that I don’t think I can learn it either as much as it is I have a wide-eyed, child-like, wonder about this whole process. I innocently consider whether or not there is a man brave enough to try to learn to speak Aisha and if I’ll be able to learn him. After all it’s not a matter of only one person learning in a relationship, both are learning the communication style of the other and over time possibly developing a new language that is a hybrid of both.

So to answer the question {five months later} yes of course I want to fall in love and get married. And to be honest it’s not that I don’t think about it but I’m in a place where I know it’s not that relationship that defines me or gives me value. I’m also not raising my right hand and singing that anthem of female independence. I choose to trust that at the right time my Teacher will make it clear who my partner is and will send him this way. Until then I’ll keep learning so that I hear and understand him when he finds and speaks to me.