2014 in Review

I love reviewing my year and looking forward to the next one to come. Each year the review looks different and takes on a vast array of feel and styles. But, I love taking the time to pause and really look at how the year went, what I did, learned, went through.. friends I made, experiences I had, but mostly the growth that happened.

I think this year was one of the most difficult, different, and unique years I have had to date. So, to prevent a bit of rambling, here are 29 things from the year I was 29:

1. I was unemployed or not full-time employed for 50 of the 52 weeks this year. – I applied for more than 400 jobs, got rejected from almost 100 of them, didn’t hear back from 200 something of them, and finally got a job!

2. I started pursuing consulting work in February, and made the transition to doing it full-time in August. I discovered that I absolutely love consulting work. So much so, that I plan on continuing it part-time on the side even with a full-time job.

3. I made a list of 29 things I wanted to do this year, I accomplished maybe half of those things.. Some of them were hopeful, some are sad that I was unable to do them just because of my financial situation, and others I am surprised and pleased that I was able to do them.

4. I had three late payments this year, but didn’t miss a single bill all year. I actually have no idea how this happened. Knowing my lack of money all year, I am totally and completely blown away by this fact. Astonished.

5. So. So. So. many people literally stepped in and prevented me from:
being homeless,
starving,
without a car (three times),
pursued for the money I owed the IRS,
in severe neck/back pain,
and a plethora of other things.
I am so shocked and amazed at how so many people stepped in and helped me with so much love and support that came out in so many ways.

6. I was able to have so much fun this year despite lacking finances to have any fun. I played for my birthday, went to New Orleans with some of my favorite people in the world, visited friends, grilled out, game nights, long talks, surprised friends for their birthday, and I got to hang out and watch movies and tv shows with family and friends.. Just so many fun things.

7. I had my sense of self and identity destroyed by being incapable of taking care of myself. It literally shattered my understanding of who I was, and what I had to offer the world to not be capable.

8. God strategically placed old and new friends in my life this year to slowly speak life back into my heart and soul. And, with their voices over the course of many many months, he slowly began telling me and showing me who I am and what my identity is once again.

9. I got more family time in the course of the last year than I have in probably the last ten years combined. Just so many fun memories, long conversations, laughter, joking, annoyances, tv shows, movies, date nights (with various family members), good food.. Literally so much wonderful quality time.

10. I have watched more tv in the last year than I have in probably the last ten years combined.

11. Last year, I had someone give what I have come to describe as a prophecy over me.. It was the awful hope that I clung to throughout the year.. Things were going to get so much worse, and I was going to look dead, and then I would grow back more fruitful and with more blessings than I would have otherwise been capable of beforehand.

12. I gained weight and was incredibly unhappy with my body.. Then I made some changes to my lifestyle and lost weight, and became much more content with how I look.

13. For the first time in my life I decided to be intentional about properly rehydrating myself. It was one of the best decision I made this year.. That is until the days I forget or am unable to consume the water my body needs/is used to.. those days I now feel awful.

14. I drove hundreds upon hundreds of miles this year. I loved every mile, and the time I got to catch up with friends or pray or contemplate and mull over things going on in my life.

15. I was able to see and re-connect with several old friends, and make a bunch of new friends.

16. I didn’t dye my hair for TEN MONTHS. Ten whole months I went (mostly cause I was poor) without dying my hair.. I spent the whole time telling myself I was giving it time to “heal” haha

17. Vormund and I spent so much time walking and traveling throughout the year. I am amazed at how much a dog can become such a place of comfort and stability.

18. I was able to spend quite a bit of time dancing this year! It had been more than a year since I was able to dance consistently so it was so nice to finally get to dust off my shoes and practice!

19. I got some pretty cool clients that are super fun to work with/for… Plus, it’s given me such great insight and knowledge into so many other industries.

20. I was reviewing my Facebook timeline for this blog post, and kept laughing at things people posted on my wall that were funny, insightful, interesting, and just overall engaging. I love the things that make my friends and family think of me, and how much they go out of their way to share those things with me! So much fun.

21. I got to take my two nephews out for birthday adventures. We had so much fun. I think I am going to try to make that a new tradition whenever possible!

22. Vormund put on around 30lbs this year, and turned two at the end of August.

VormundandToy10.12

8.5 weeks old

IMG_1386

Just over 1 year old.

 

IMG_0549

Just over 2 years old.

23. I feel like this year was a year of pain and hurt.. but with a purpose at the end (that I do not currently entirely understand). Throughout the course of even just this year I have been able to encourage someone and completely understood what they were going through. It was weirdly encouraging for me as well to find people who we had struggling in common, as if not being the only one experiencing the issues helped.

24. My faith and relationship with God has been dramatically different in 2014 than it has ever been previously. We did very little actual talking, but a whole heck of a lot of sitting in silence together experiencing pain and just being in each other’s presence. I did a lot of sharing my heart, but more just pushing my heart towards Him and with a distinct lack of words to describe how I was feeling. My comprehension of who He is, and my faith in His unfailing love has grown into an unmoving solid understanding

25. I have never in my entire life stressed and worried or stayed up at night with straight up fear as much as I have this year. I spent countless nights just laying in bed physically stressing over money… I hope to never repeat those feelings or nights.

26. I gained a greater understanding of how frustrating cliché answers can be to someone truly going through a season or situation. There were days that cliché answers just made me see red and want to punch someone in the throat. When something is so profoundly emotion, cliché answers are not encouraging, but rather frustrating.

27. I learned so much about hope, hopelessness, strength, faith, pain, joy, anxiousness, stress, peace, and patience even without understanding. I would never choose to repeat this year, but I also am very thankful for how I have grown because of it.

28. It is hard to explain the level of relief I felt when I got the job in DC… To be moving back to a city I love, and to have a job, to work for a place I have loved for so long, and to finally feel like I have direction.. Huge amounts of relief… Followed by the stress of trying to figure it all out. I have been cycling through relief and stress on a regular basis for about a month now. Repeating to myself, God has carried me this far, He cannot let me go now.

29. Despite everything, love has been overwhelming this year. Friends loving me. Family stepping in and loving me, even when I was about as interesting as a little blank grey piece of paper. Loved when I couldn’t love well in return or had nothing to offer.

As I reflect on 2014, I am amazed. So many things went wrong, yet I am in a state of awe for the way that God has done things this year. Thank you to those of you who reached out and loved me, supported me, encouraged me, gave me money, did fun things with me, talked to me for hours, told me how much I mean to you, prayed for me, hugged me, took care of me and/or my dog.. Thank you for loving me strongly, gently, fiercely, and when I did not deserve the love. You all made this year possible (as in actually made it possible). I do not deserve the love and I am humbled knowing how little I had to give in return.

Thank you.

 

Revised Bucket List…

When I was in high school, I decided I wanted to be the type of old person who had so many ridiculous and crazy stories of things I have done, places I have been, and people I have met that the only question that would make sense is: “How did you have time to do everything?” When I settled on that as a huge goal in life, I began crafting a bucket list of sorts… Only, it is more of my “life” goals, but the meaning is essentially the same I suppose.

So, regularly I revise my bucket list because I think it should be ever-growing and molding; plus, I must replace the items I have accomplished with new ones!

A couple of years ago, I re-organized my list and created categories which has made it easier to manage, follow, update and honestly just be really excited about. So…

It is time to update my Life Goals list again!

Experiences:

  1. Watch the sunrise AND sunset from each side of every ocean or sea (a = Sunrise, b = Sunset): 1. Pacific (b), 2. Atlantic, 3. Indian, 4. Arctic, 5. Southern, 6. Mediterranean Sea (a), 7. Caribbean, 8. South China Sea, 9. Bering Sea, 10. Gulf of Mexico (b), 11. Okhotsk Sea, 12. East China Sea, 13. Hudson Bay, 14. Japan Sea, 15. Andaman Sea, 16. North Sea, 17. Red Sea, 18. Baltic Sea
  2. Have a croissant at a French cafe 
  3. Ride a gondola in Venice
  4. Stay in a hostel
  5. Attend Loy Krathong, the sky lantern festival in Thailand
  6. Attend La Tomatina in Spain
  7. Be in Spain for running of the Bulls (but not participate)
  8. Move somewhere new alone
  9. Participate in a giant food fight
  10. Drink whiskey at a pub in Ireland
  11. Ride a helicopter
  12. Ride an elephant
  13. Ride a camel in the desert
  14. Ride through the Panama Canal
  15. Horseback ride through a coffee plantation
  16. Jump off a waterfall
  17. See the Pyramids at sunset
  18. See a glacier in Antarctica
  19. Visit the church made entirely of bones
  20. Visit ancient ruins
  21. Stay in the ice hotel
  22. Stand on the Great Wall of China
  23. Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower
  24. Stand inside the Taj Mahal
  25. Tube down a river
  26. Learn to roll in a kayak
  27. Learn to snowboard, and ski
  28. Learn to wakeboard and water ski
  29. Drive a sports car over 100mph
  30. Go parasailing
  31. Go paragliding
  32. Go dog sledding
  33. Go on a Safari in Africa 
  34. Go rock climbing
  35. Go to the Kentucky Derby
  36. Go white water rafting
  37. Go Sky diving
  38. Go on a multi-day biking trip
  39. Go on a cruise
  40. Go wine tasting
  41. Wine taste at a vineyard in Italy
  42. Climb a volcano 
  43. Climb a glacier 
  44. Climb a mountain
  45. See and/or climb Mt. Kilomanjaro and Mt. Everest
  46. Hike the Inca Trail 
  47. Watch the sunrise or sunset over the Grand Canyon
  48. Watch the Northern Lights 
  49. See a shooting star 
  50. See Bioluminescent Plankton 
  51. Ring a church bell
  52. Choose fifty favorite places to relax and connect with God
  53. Attend the entire summer Olympics
  54. Zip line through a canopy
  55. Drink lemonade on the front porch swing on warm summer night
  56. Live in a house with a window seat and wrap around porch
  57. Christen a boat
  58. Learn to surf
  59. Learn to paddleboard  
  60. Dive with Manta Rays in Hawaii
  61. Swim in the Dead Sea
  62. Swim with a whale
  63. Snorkel the great barrier reef in Australia
  64. Swim with bioluminescent plankton in Puerto Rico
  65. Scuba dive 
  66. Tango in a milonga 
  67. Spend a night in a treehouse
  68. Have a big wedding celebration with everyone I love

Travel:

  1. Set foot on all seven continents: AsiaAfricaNorth America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.
  2. Set foot in all fifty states:Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
  3. Cross the Canadian border 
  4. Go to Cuba
  5. Go to Spain
  6. Straddle the equator on two continents
  7. Take a road trip across the U.S.
  8. Have an adventure in Greece
  9. Take a month-long vacation without computers
  10. Live in another country for a year
  11. Go to Fiji
  12. Spend a summer touring Europe
  13. Go to Hawaii
  14. Go to South America with my sister

Personal:

  1. Attend a Ball
  2. Learn Latin dances: Argentine TangoSalsaCumbiaMerengueCha chaBachata, Rumba, Mambo,
  3. Learn to West Coast Swing
  4. Be a published artist
  5. Get art in a gallery
  6. Write a book or novel
  7. Finish and publish “Facts of Life”
  8. Throw a block party
  9. Blog consistently for 10 years
  10. Go a day without speaking
  11. Organize a retreat
  12. Start and run my own business
  13. Get my second degree black belt
  14. Get a tattoo (I have two)
  15. Do two pull ups 
  16. Own a very large dog 
  17. Be conversational in two languages: 1. English 2. Spanish
  18. Learn a least enough in three additional languages to semi-understand
  19. Make my own list of the hundred best things to eat
  20. Plant a tiny orchard
  21. Grow vegetables in my own garden
  22. Go berry picking
  23. Make completely homemade pies 
  24. Make butterscotch from scratch (I have a recipe, now I just need to get all the ingredients and do it!)
  25. Run a 10k
  26. Run a half marathon
  27. Shoot every major gun: PistolShotgunRifle, Muzzleloader, Revolver
  28. Start a fire without a match
  29. Build a house from start to finish
  30. Own a Beach house with friends

Giving:

  1. Help someone get through college
  2. Do something for someone they can never repay
  3. Tithe my whole life
  4. Start a non-profit or help run one
  5. Buy stock on my own
  6. Do one grand loving gesture a year
  7. Be debt free by 35
  8. Use my work to improve lives
  9. Remove money as a concern from my life
  10. Gift 1 million dollars to missions (not tithing)
  11. Help my family become debt free
  12. Give people in ministry free vacations at the beach house

Total, there are 124 things on my bucket list so far, which realistically is more than that due to the sub points. And, since this is an ever evolving Life Goals, things will likely be crossed off and added to this year.

In 2013, I crossed off 12 things from my list!.. In 2014, I aim to cross off more than double that!

I am currently working on a list of 29 things I want to do in 2014 because I am turning 29 on the 29th of January! One of the things I have discovered as I compile this “29 Things” list is, most “30 things to do before you’re 30” lists are lame, and almost all of the “29 things to do when you are 29” lists I have found are stupid. So, I will attempt to create an actual solid list of things to do in a year, and leave out things such as, “Forgive” “Fall in love” or “get married” as key points on my list… My list will be much more active and intentional.

I cannot wait to share my 29 things I want to do in 2014!

Stepping Into Dancing…

I have begun looking into the possibility of heading to Seminary in the fall. I have two main motivating factors:

1. If I am going to truly do this “full-time ministry thing” as a career, it might help if I have more education in the realm of Jesus and religion in general!

2. I will need a new/larger vehicle soon, and I cannot afford a car payment and loan payments at the same time… So, staying in school is a good way to differ my loans while I pay off my car at record speed!

I am well aware of the slight ridiculousness of my reasons, but I also tend to be a go big or go home kinda person, and I pretty much always choose to go big… No, really, I do.

This past week, I began checking into various programs, and decided I will likely pursue a Master of Divinity because let’s be honest, it is among the higher levels I could get. Which sadly means it is a three year program (noooo!!!). However, I might be able to get between a semester to a full year off due to my MS in Leadership degree I will have completed in April (woot woot!)! So, off to visit a seminary I went last week.. And, while the courses seemed incredibly interesting, and a couple of the professors seemed amazing, I was less than excited about the other students I encountered.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand that a lot of Christians are very conservative, but I was incredibly discouraged with the degree to which the students exuded their identical conservativeness. — I also realize that I am making a pretty judgmental statement when I say that… However, I was very overwhelmed with the level at which everyone (and I really do mean everyone) I encountered seemed the same. Like carbon copies of each other.

Which left me with the thought: “WHO ARE YOUR PEOPLE!?”

In ministry I feel like we have two distinct callings:

A. Minister to people like you.

B. Minister to people dramatically different than you…

Or possibly third variation C. At various seasons in your life both A. and B. are your calling.

But, what struck me when I was in a room with about 40 other students; who theoretically are in seminary to be the next generation of Christian leaders, and that they seemed… boring and exactly like each other.

Never in my life have I been in a situation like that… It was such an overwhelming feeling that it is actually hard to describe accurately.

Again, I am well aware that I am taking a fairly judgement position on all of the students I encountered, but I cannot help but feel as though Christians will miss large swaths of people if we forget to be exactly who God has made us to be!

We were not created to be like each other, each of us are created unique!

When we step into the uniqueness of who God fashioned us to be, we are exhibiting His creativity and diversity.

I also recognize that there are a lot of people who do not yet know who they are, and/or have not yet become comfortable in their own skin… But, it was very discouraging to be in a room with so many other Christian-leaders-in-training and feel like I stood out like a sore thumb simply because I did not look nor act like them. — I know that this is a viewpoint based off of 30 minutes, but never in my life have I been so overwhelmed by a feeling based off of a group of people around me.

I left feeling like although the program/education itself would be amazing, I did not fit, and the other students would not be “my people.”

Conversely, I went salsa dancing for the first time last night since August, when I injured my hip/leg, and since moving to MI.. Which means, it has been almost six months since I have danced last. I was a little unsure of the location and venue, but after quite a bit of online research, it seemed like one of the better places to go, especially by myself for the first time… And, while it was different in regards to the type of venue I am used to, the evening was perfect. The other dancers were fantastic, and I was asked to dance on a very regular basis despite being a new face.

My first lasting thought was, I am ridiculously out of shape. But, I was incredibly pleased that my hip and leg did not give me too much of a problem. I was also thrilled that I had numerous great dances, and, more than a few patient leads as I re-figured out my rusty and careful dancing.

At one point in the evening, I sat watching everyone dance (one of my favorite things), and I realized that I felt more at home with these diverse looking people moving to the rhythm of Latin music, than I did with a group of people aiming to learn more about the God of all… — In that moment, my heart broke. Not for myself, but the students I encountered last week. My heart broke because in the 30 minutes I spent with them, not a single one exuded an understanding that in Christ we have an infinite amount of creativity and uniqueness at our fingertips. In Christ we do not have to fear being who we are…

We all look different, love different, and are drawn to different styles because we were meant to show the diversity of our God with those things.

We were meant to point to the God who is creative enough to make an endless number of galaxies that each look different, while simultaneously creating billions of people each unique and different.

It always amazes me the things I learn or am reminded of when I go dancing.

In a perfect world, we were meant to each be unique, created to move to the rhythm we hear in our hearts, and encouraged to express what touches us, all in an effort to glorify I AM.

2012 Wrap-Up…

Virginia Beach at night

Every year I do a year end wrap up.. I tend to do each year differently for some reason… And, this year is no different… in that it will be different than the others haha 🙂

I have been blogging since I was 18… Basically since blogging began “back in the day” haha.. However, I switched from my Xanga (what?!) to this one in 2008 when I moved to Central VA. Here are the previous year’s in review posts:

2008 – Who Were YOU a Year Ago?
2009 – The Year I Was 24
2010 – 2010… Never Again…
2011 – Hello, Good-Bye 2011

DC

(This gives a great view of how much my writing and views have changes and grown due to experiences, trials, friends, etc..) What a crazy thing to look back and read the year end reviews.

In the early part of 2013 I will post my goals for the year and some of my thoughts on where I feel like God is or is not leading me.

Power of Propaganda – Holocaust Museum

I love these two posts more than any other I do because it helps me wrap up and finish a year, and then look forward. I love that I can look back and remember what God is and has been doing in my life for so many years, and have a physical representation of the journey He is taking my life on… Plus, it is just sorta fun to see how accurate or totally off I was!

Favorite Memorial

I went into 2012 feeling like God was asking me to just take things as He brought them to me.
I had a few goals or “resolutions” going into 2012:
I wanted to exercise more compassion, grace, mercy, and love than I have in years past.
I wanted to diligently complete the next year of my double masters program.
I want to work better at controlling my mouth.
I wanted  to draw closer to my sweet Jesus Christ,  I want to learn more about who He is, and subsequently who I am supposed to be…
I wanted to learn how to love people on behalf of him better this year…

And then, I ended with saying “Now to pray them into existence” … Boy did I have little idea at the time how much of this year would revolve around prayer…

New Years Eve

In January I started my own business.. which I dabble in still, but it is not my main focus.
A relationship I was “seeing where it goes” ended.. lamely, but it was definitely for the best, even if the reason given was over text message, and late came out to not actually be the real reason. I am thankful that even though it hurt, I learned so much about dating. — This also was the start to just being satisfied with my single path that God has me on currently.
My bff came to visit, along with my best friend from Lynchburg, and then we toodled around DC with my best friend from DC and celebrated my 27th birthday.

My first “work” friend in DC

In February I felt like I was on the cusp of something.. Like I was running towards a cliff, getting ready to throw myself off of it, but I was unable to see what was over the edge.. Little did I know it was the start of changing things to bring me back to MI.
I wrote the single most visited blog post that I have ever written: Gay, Lesbian, Laws, and Christ… — And, I am have gotten some really great feedback from people from all different backgrounds and viewpoints.. Including a dear friend who I have never seen face to face but is on my 3×5 cards 😉

Meg came!!

March really sunk home the year of prayer I felt like 2012 was turning into. I loved it, but it was definitely challenging, and at times almost physically painful.
March was a very humbling month
I also was faced with some very difficult relationship situations

Easter Weekend with best friends

In April it dawned on me how many prayers God is answering in my life!.. It also left me feeling mentally blank when I would try to blog… Which lead to a lot of randomness…
I realized how much I loved my church, how much I enjoyed being a part of it.. and even still how much I feel connected through it.
I was reminded that I will serve and praise the Lord during the good and the bad.
I realized I never meant to be a career woman, and my heart ached.. Ironically I vocalized my desire to be a catalyst…

Memorial Weekend on the Capital lawn..
Before we got stormed out

Unannounced to me May started months upon months of adjustments and pain that really is due to a chronic problem I have…
My mom and I talked multiple times a week on our drives home, and had lots of interesting conversations
I updated my life goals
I also decided to be bold over the summer.. Pretty funny considering all the changes summer brought me..
God and I continued our never ending learning curve about leadership and marriage.. One day maybe it’ll be put to good use!

Small group friends
Meeting Vera!

June. Was. Crazy. Seriously, I have no idea how I fit so much into it.
I met a longtime friend FINALLY.

4th of July
DC Fireworks

Then there was July… Oh the infamous July… In the beginning of the month I prepared to start a fast that would kick off in the middle of the month.
I had my fill of “single” comments.. and my need to share my sentiments spilled out into a mostly sarcastic and humor infused post..
I struggled with relationships, and conflicts.. Which is good…. and usually feel terrible.
And then.. I naively posted about despising parts of change. God and I did battle as I kicked off the 40 day freedom fast.

“The Pencil” – Washington Monument

Prayer and Change, that is what this year felt consumed with.

 

Bachata Congress!

August was C.R.A.Z.Y. – I interviewed for a new job.. danced.. seriously injured myself.. accepted a new job.. and prepared to move.

Ice Cream eating competition – with our Ref.

September was a blur of packing and painting, saying good-bye, crying for all sorts of reasons, and a hard to explain mix of emotions. I am not even kidding when I say, no matter how shallow it may seem, choosing to leave DC and move back to MI was one of the hardest things I have done. Not because it was actually hard, and not because I struggled with whether God was leading me, but because I loved my friends and church there, and it felt safe, like home.

The murals I painted in my office

Then, what felt like the culmination of the first 9 months of 2012 finally exploded into crystal clear depiction of what it was pointing to… And, as always, God took care of me.

Vormund!

Oh man did I begin to get overwhelmed and totally humbled by the task before me… I set to the task of doing my job, and doing it well… and then I never slept. Literally.

Change.. oh October was about change.. in every sense of the word.. Life, Work, Puppy.. change change everywhere..

Three of my siblings – They make me laugh a lot

Oh sweet November… I don’t really remember you because I was busy.
Busy raising a puppy and loving people for Jesus.. That is until I got sick, then I still had to raise a puppy and love people for Jesus, but felt like I was going to die.. or cough up a lung.. or never ever get enough sleep again. (dramatic much?)
After a much needed trip to DC to see people I love, I became consumed with work.. I loved every bit of it, despite the 80 hours a week I was putting in.
My great grandma passed away.

My first “for real I’m an adult” Christmas tree!

December brought with it crazy amount of hours of work, but I began seeing things happening and started seeing the work I was doing having an impact! But, in the midst of seeing the impact, I also began to see difficult things, and started realizing I have no “outlet” and will quickly burn out at the pace I was keeping.

Getting to be a fun aunt

I wrote my first guest post: Don’t Be Afraid to Date
And, my puppy is growing.. a lot.. and is sick..

Teaching munchkins how to make funny faces

What is crazy to me is that I tagged a LOT of the blog posts I wrote throughout this year.. but, I only chose a few from each month.. which means, this is merely a glossary overview of the year, the trials, the struggles, the joy, the friends, the trips, the meltdowns.. it amazes me at the sheer amount of things God has done and the prayers He has answered this year. Blows my mind. I am somewhere between totally overwhelmed and really stoked to see what He uses this building block of a year for in the future…

I have grown so much this year, and as difficult and at times painful as it was, I would never give it back nor change it. I am so beyond humbled at the task before me, but also at the friends and family that support me…

Who am I that God should use me?

2012 was a year unlike any other.
2012 was a year of prayer.
2012 was a year of change.

Hip Woes…

There are periods of time that I forget and subsequently become lazy about the specific and tedious care my body needs in order to maintain homeostasis. You see, my tendons and ligaments are something similar to an old worn and overused rubber band; they stretch more then they should, and they have very little pull resistance. Due to the relaxed nature of my tendons and ligaments, I have to be diligent in exercising, taking supplements, and stretching.

What happens when I am not diligent?… I dislocate a hip and crumble to the floor.

Seriously, that happened to me last Sunday.

The frustrating thing about all of this is, I am aware of my issues with my joints, but somehow manage to forget and/or push my body just beyond what it can handle… The even more frustrating thing is when I dislocated my hip this time, I did it stretching. No joke, I had spent the whole weekend dancing, and really it was the first time I had worked out in more than two months.. However, I did not think about the fact that spending all weekend dancing would fatigue my core and hip muscles, which would then affect my bodies ability to keep itself together.

On Sunday I was doing a fairly normal standing leg stretch when my right hip popped about eight times and shifted dramatically. (Before continuing, let me explain, I dislocate things on a somewhat regular basis.. It is always painful, but no joint is as painful as the hip… Ok, well maybe the jaw, but that happens less regularly.) Thankfully when I dislocated my hip I was holding onto a railing, otherwise I likely would have fallen; instead I lowered my leg, and then slowly crumbled to the floor trying to draw as little attention to myself as possible.

Pain. Massive amounts of pain when you dislocate your hip.

I spent the next twenty minutes trying to see if I could pop my hip back into place myself. I succeeded in popping it a few more times, but not really back into socket. And, since I was getting ready to take the last workshop of the weekend, one of which I had been looking forward to all weekend, I proceeded to dance another hour. By the end of the workshop, my pain threshold was getting a good test, but my almost equally intense desire to not make a big deal about the pain was also in full effect.

Thankfully, I was able to find a friend in town willing to inflict even more pain on me in order to put my hip back into place. The only bright spot in dislocating my hip is it provides incredibly hysterical stories later of the process of talking friends through how to put my hip back, fielding their questions, then laughing at their reactions to the entire thing.. And, trust me, I am perfectly aware that it is a completely ridiculous situation to start with, which only adds to the humor of it all… after the pain has subsided.

Currently, I am dealing with residual effects of a dislocated hip, which basically include a really sore hip joint, and a lot of somewhat painful but careful stretching. As luck would have it, I have weekly visits to my chiropractor and he is awesome; he put me through some tests to figure out where my hip was a few days later, then gave me some tips and things he wants me to do to speed up recovery.. but until then it feels unstable and sore. Lovely.

Life Lessons from Dancing…

So, I spent the weekend at the DC Bachata Congress. This is my second year attending the entire weekend, and my third year attending at least some portion of the event. I love dancing, and I love dancing with friends.. which this weekend was packed full of.. but, I am always amazed at how much I learn about myself and life in general from dancing.

However, before I get to my life lessons, this weekend my friends and I succeeded in taking more than one picture throughout the weekend…

(haha… There are a few more from my camera, and she has a couple more on her camera as well)
Throughout the whole weekend, we took some amazing classes, learned a whole lot more footwork than anyone could ever actually retain in one weekend; so instead took a ton of videos of the things we learned. And then we spent all of our spare time doing homework, eating, and sleeping. 
So, onto the life lessons I garnered about myself and relationships from dancing.
First, here’s a video, that’s out of focus, but gives you a basic idea of what I’m going to talk about. We are dancing Salsa (on 1)…

This video was from the second hour of the private lesson I had with Darlin Garcia, (who is hands down my favorite instructor/professional dancer). I have a lot of respect for him for so many reasons, partially because he loves and is dedicated to what he does, but also because he loves and is dedicated to his beautiful wife, son, and God, and there is no mistaking any of that… Not to mention he is a fantastic teacher and lots of fun.
Anyway, while he spent a couple hours helping me perfect my approach to salsa, my technique, and footwork (all things I desperately needed), he (probably) unknowingly helped me understand my approach to a lot of things in my life as well. 
The first hour of our lesson was just he and I, and we spent the majority of the time working on the literal basic steps, but not because I did not know them or could not perform them, it was entirely because I was not focused on the basic steps, so subsequently would try and figure out or get to the next step, move, pattern etc.. Which of course throws off the entire dance because he (the lead) is not there yet. Other times I would get so anxious for what was coming next that I would stop paying attention to what was going on now, and as he deemed it “run away” trying to anticipate. In the video you can see me smile or laugh at him each time I almost run away to the next thing before he leads me there… And then at the end of the video the high five was because I made it all the way through without anticipating and actually allowed him to lead me… It is harder than it looks!
I realized in the middle of our lesson that in general my approach to life is foll throttle forward.. and very little of my attention is in taking the time to focus on right now, the current step… Oye.
The night before my lesson, I realized that I always thought I needed or preferred a “strong lead” meaning a clear, distinct, and “good strong” lead, which I associated with forceful… Yet I realized that I was not as much a fan of the forceful leads, and felt like I messed up much more. After spending time learning from Darlin, it solidified my revelation; the “good strong” leads are actually the yes, clear, distinct, but gentle ones, not at all forceful. Because while Darlin is certainly strong enough to easily pull and push me around as we dance if he wanted to, he chooses instead to be clear and direct, yet entirely gentle guidance… Granted because I am still not very good yet, it takes me a little while to learn and pick up what the signals mean, but he remained patient, and kept his sense of humor throughout the entire two hour lesson. 
What I realized throughout my lesson with Darlin, and the weekend as a whole is that, the more forceful a lead was, the more tense I would get in the dance, and then subsequently the more I would mess up and the less fun I would have. When I get tense, I would begin to get nervous and spend the entire time focused on protecting my shoulders from turns that were too forceful or pay more attention to the people around me ensuring I did not bump into them rather than enjoying the dance and the lead he was giving. However, on the opposite spectrum, the guys that lead clearly and directly, but with a much more gentle approach allowed me to relax, trust them, and follow much more easily. I found that with the gentle leads I would I stop paying attention to the people around me and forgot to focus on protecting myself from potential harm and instead just enjoyed the dance.
I find it funny that spending a couple hours with a dance instructor gave me a slighly different perspective on not just guys leading in general, but more specifically what actually makes me more comfortable.. which interestingly enough was not entirely what I thought (only maybe 2/3 correct haha). 
What a painless way to learn something about yourself… If only all life lessons could be taught in a couple hours of salsa dancing 😉

27th Birthday…

Today I turn 27.

I have had one of the best birthdays, and have been reminded of how incredibly blessed and fortunate I am to have so many people in my life who love me dearly… even when I fall short.

I will write more about the weekend later… Right now, here are the top 27 things from the last year (in chronological order):

  1. Two of my best friends getting engaged 30 seconds after the the ball dropped on New Years. 
  2. My bff marrying the man of her dreams, and getting to stand up in her wedding with her.
  3. My best friends and roomie surprising me for my 26th birthday.
  4. My little brother showing up for my 26th birthday with a dozen roses from him and my older brother.
  5. Spending Easter with my best friend from college and his wife.
  6. Getting to surprise my older brother for his birthday.
  7. A friend moving to DC and becoming a close friend.
  8. A new roomie moving into the house.
  9. The wedding of a great friend.
  10. My two best friends getting married.. and spending the weekend with so many close friends.
  11. Throwing my parents a 30th anniversary party and seeing everyone.
  12. The Bachata congress here in DC with such a wonderful friend. 
  13. Lake and beach days.
  14. Helping my bff and her husband move.
  15. Visiting my cousin in California.
  16. Learning to Paddle board.
  17. Finally letting God take control of my frustrating work situation.
  18. Finding stability and peace internally for the first time in two years.
  19. Surviving the first year of Grad school.
  20. Reconnecting with an old college friend.
  21. Making Thanksgiving dinner with a my wonderful friend.
  22. Letting God use others teach me about my value and worth.
  23. Going to Philly with one of my amazing friends to dance and spend time together.
  24. Driving to MI and back to DC with my roomie.
  25. An old roomie/sister getting engaged.
  26. Christmas.
  27. Surviving 2011 officially when the ball dropped and it was 2012.

Some of these are obviously a little tongue and cheek, a few I am well aware make no sense unless you lived through those moments with me, and others are amusing, but completely true to how I feel.

26 was a really difficult year for me (as was 25), but I am incredibly hopeful about this year. I am amazed at the things God is teaching me already in this year, and I am so excited for what is to come (and filled with a little Holy trepidation if things continue to go the way they are currently).

Thank you to the friends and family:
That have stood by me, listened to me vent, ramble, cry, yell, laugh, and for the times you sat next to me in total silence because the were just no words. Thank you for the cooked foods, the movie nights, the galavanting around, the trips, and the memories we built this year. Thank you for sticking through the really difficult times, and for all the times you were more gracious than I deserved, and chose to love me despite my shortcomings and flaws. Thank you for your patience as I learned how to be patient. Thank you for your compassion as I learned what true compassion meant. Thank you for all the times you sought me out because I was unable to look beyond my own pain. Thank you for all of the hugs, dances, snuggles, running, goofing around, and for all the talking around the dinner table. Thank you for all of the phone conversations, for telling me when I was wrong, for listening to me when I needed to bounce my ideas and thoughts off of someone, and for praying for me whether I asked you to or not. Thank you for encouraging me more each day to draw closer to the Lord, and for all of the times you were on your knees on my behalf. Thank you for the unconditional love and forgiveness that I do not deserve, and for picking me up when I was unable to get up. Thank you for the faith you shared with me and for the confidence in our Savior when I was doubting. Thank you for sticking by me when it would have been much easier to walk away.

To my friends and family, I do not deserve you, but I simply cannot express how thankful and humbled I am that you are in my life. You show me Christ in new ways every day, and words simply cannot express how much each one of you mean to me. Thank you is not enough, but thank you is all I have.