Saturday, January 26, 2013

When the South Meets the West

When I moved to Georgia with my GAP sweaters and my reluctance to the outdoors and/or dirt I had no idea what was waiting for me. Less than a year later I was riding on the back of a four wheeler with camouflage boots and a redneck boyfriend. I had joined the culture of the South and I loved it.
Almost 7 years later I have left the South that I learned to love so much and moved to the West, quite another culturally distinct place. From hippies, to hobos, to immigrants, this place is quite the mixture! 

But my favorite thing is when the South meets the West. 

When the South meets the West worlds collide and sweetness tries to seep into standoffishness. When the South meets the West the Southern drawl woos the normally indifferent into being interested and kind and everything becomes more colorful. 

How you know a Southerner in the West:

1. They ask complete strangers how they are doing. 
When my friend Kyle was stationed here before he left for Afghanistan we would be walking down the street and he would actually ask complete strangers how they were doing. At first I wondered if he mysteriously knew everyone in the city of Burbank, but then I realized that was almost impossible. If you are a Southerner, everyone deserves a hello!

2. They say “thank you” to everyone....and I mean everyone.
         My friend Casey Cone has graced the state of California with her Southern drawl and she never ceases to say “thank you very much” to everyone from the busboy, to the cashier, to the person who hands us a check at a restaurant. At first I just thought she was the most grateful person in the whole world, then I realized that its just what Southerners do.

3. “ma’am” and “sir”....need I say more? 
I came back to California from Christmas with more manners than I had used in the past six months combined. I called everyone “ma’am” and “sir” and I had to admit, I liked the ring it had to it. 

I think I have realized that when the South collides with the West everything becomes a whole lot more fun. I catch a little bit of the Southern accent and I like to believe that the lives of those around me and my visitors gets a little bit brighter. Kindness and manners are contagious, and when you bring the South to the West the joy spreads. 

And this Virginia/Georgia/California girl now wears her GAP shirts with camouflage pants and her new hipster shirt-jacket. 
Hey, no one said you have to match in California. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sometimes we all just need a little reminder...

I have been made this way for a purpose. I have been designed for a reason and I have given my life to an Almighty God. His plan is better than mine, His love greater than mine, and His timing more perfect than mine. I am not defective, behind, or on the wrong path. I am a beautiful daughter of the King with value, with purpose, and with substance. I cannot be discouraged. 

For I can make a difference. I can make a change. I can be their voice. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Brief Glimpse into my January

It has been busy here in Pasadena! 80 degree weather, lots of people coming in to visit and one more coming before the week is over. January has certainly been a month of change, fun, new opportunities, and challenges. The beauty of the busy days though is that in the midst of it I have had some of those I love most here to do my crazy life with me. Let's recap so I can relive the fun:

Last week I was on the set of the FX show Justified with my best friend and her family.
This week I adventured around LA and watched movies with my most awesome brother.
Next week one of my best friends from college will be here for a four day sleepover, filled with ice cream, beaches, and quality time.

Three of my most favorite people, all the way from the East Coast, have been/will be here with me and it has been the silver lining on a wintery month (ok, its super sunny in California but the start of a new year always has its bumps).

So, that is the update (albeit brief) from the West Coast. If you feel like putting me on the prayer list I am working through some options for when I finish school this summer and I definitely need God's guidance. I also need a second wind to get me through these last six months of graduate school. This girl is getting tired!

Here is to a great finish to January and a hopefully less chaotic beginning of February. 2013, you have certainly come in running. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Running from "The Boomerang" (and why it might not be as great as I imagined)

I’ve spent the last five years of my life running from the stereotypes of my generation. The thought of “prolonged adolescence” or “delayed adulthood” made me cringe. The idea of joining in “the boomerang generation” and living with my parents again made me wince. The stereotypes of my generation led me to believe that inadequacy was my biggest opponent. If I became like “the rest” of my generation I would somehow be failing. Isn’t that what the media was suggesting? By prolonging our adolescence and living at home we were failing to be what we were supposed to be at our age. With fear as my companion I naturally complied. I viewed living at home and working at an hourly wage as failure, and I ran from it, all the way across the country. No one could accuse me of boomerang-ing when I lived over 2,000 miles from my family! I was on the track to breaking the mold.

With this mindset of proving the generation critics wrong I left college and haven’t stopped running in the almost two years since. I have been obsessed with what comes next, with how to get to the next step, the better step, the step with more income. Sure, my career mindset looks different than that of most Americans, but I was still falling into the same trap. I was looking to do everything I could to make the world think highly of me, and I was trying to do it on the fast track. Most recently I decided upon a Phd, which would help me to have my dream job, follow my God-given heart’s desire, and be able to provide for myself and (hopefully) a family. Upon this realization that I could have my Phd by 29 if I worked hard enough, I quietly lamented losing my 20s to school and more school.  But it was all for a greater cause, right? To glorify God with my talents, to follow my passions, and to keep from living with my parents and being seen as a slacker. It was hard work worth the losses. . . right? 

Or maybe not. I know a spectacular, godly woman who is an amazing role model. At 27 she is gorgeous, confident, sophisticated, and living at home. After a whirlwind career in Washington DC she returned home to work at a local boutique clothing store and be with her family. Sound like a sad story? Far from it. This amazing woman is happy, content, and joyful to take a break from the crazy corporate get-where-you-are-going-and-get-there-fast world. For a few months or years she can take a breath and enjoy the things that matter most. So what does that mean for me? I haven’t stopped to breathe since I was seven. Yes, I want my Phd and my dream job, but in running from the proposed inadequacies of my generation I have realized how much those things I am running from matter. I am realizing how nice it would be to take time to live near my family and enjoy their company. I want to take a break from running to success to enjoy being young, to enjoy being able to live on a little and take care of only me. No, not all who live at home or work hourly jobs are smart and motivated, but some really are. Some have realized that we all grow up too fast, and sometimes it is worth it to take a break while we are young (because all of you would call your 20s young). Some have realized the value of family and being near those you love. 

I still fear being viewed as a failure. When I finish my Masters degree at 24 this summer I still get anxiety thinking about what all my college friends will think if I move back to Atlanta and work at a clothing store for a few months. I am the missionary, the girl with big dreams and the willingness to take risks for them, not the girl who spends time with old friends and works for little more than minimum wage. I have a strong desire to climb the ladder to my view of success, not only for myself, but to please the Lord who gave me these talents and gifts. But I am slowly coming to realize that it is ok to take a little time to breathe while we are young. It is not a failure or an inadequacy to move close to the ones who make life worth living and work a job that is fun and easy. Taking a break doesn’t mean I have abandoned my dreams, or that I am not living them, it just means I am giving myself the space to prepare and to relax. And perhaps, if I let myself slow down for a few months, then I will have space quiet enough to hear the voice of my Savior and to enjoy the gifts of life that He has given me.  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Character of Reading

The other day I spent most of the hours wrapped in a cozy blue chair reading a new book. It was a precious kind of day where no one expects you to be anywhere and no tasks call your name. You can slip into the oblivion of fiction, become wrapped tightly in the storyline, melting into the characteristics of the characters. It was the kind of day where after one hundred pages you find that you half expect the characters to be right there with you, asking you what to do on the next page, how to resolve the conflict that seems impossible to fix. When I finally left the cozy walls of the apartment it was only to realize that the movements of the novel had not sprung off the pages and the world was just as I had left it, moving on as nothing has changed. I wondered how I can get so entrapped in their lives, these people that exist only on paper. I had begun to hope with them, to dream with them. Perhaps I am just a hopeless romantic, believing that the truth of novels can be the truth of the world, or perhaps I never truly lost the vivid and wonderful imagination I had as a child. Whatever the reason, when the book finished I had the same feeling I have always had, when the last word is read and there is no more. It is a feeling of accomplishment, of satisfaction, stirred up with a slight twinge of sadness that the story can no longer draw you deep into its world. 

I once tried to date a boy who didn’t like to read. When reviewing the failure of this dating endeavor a good friend remarked matter-of-factly that part of the problem lay in this fact that I had dismissed as unimportant. Reading, she stated, is not just a thing to do. Being able to enjoy a good book is a character trait. As I lay down my book and return to the world that exists around me, I cherish that statement. 

And in final real news, school starts again tomorrow. Just three quarters left. I admit I am not looking forward to them, but like the little engine that could, I will just keep chugging. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Pages of 2013

Well, another year has come and gone and a new one has begun. 2013 seemed to slip in rather quietly, with barely a whoop or a holler. With just a few close friends, a hymn, and a prayer, 2012 was no more and I realized just how quickly time seems to roll by.

On New Year's Day, after watching the Rose Parade on Colorado Boulevard, I went with a few friends to the beach. As they wandered around I sat on a blanket, bundled up and slightly chilly, watching the sun set and listening to the ocean roll in and out of the shore. I felt so at peace being surrounded by His majesty, and I prayed that this next year would be centered around Him and Him alone. I want to trust, to love, to be kind, to be intentional, because He is all those things for me. I want to spend more time in His Word and in prayer, hoping that His characteristics will rub off on me. Hoping that I can lead a better life, a kinder life, and a life that impacts those around me.

Looking back 2012 was an interesting year, one that I don't think will be be remembered. But 2013 holds promise, intrigue, mystery, and change. 2013 has the potential to be like a good book, one that you can't put down, where you simultaneously want to go back and relive the earlier pages but you can't wait to see what surprises the ending holds. Whatever the pages of 2013 bring I hope to hold on to each word with joy and anticipation, because I know that each paragraph is a stepping stone to something greater. Each chapter is forming me to be who I am made to be.

Come to think of it, I am now rather excited for 2013. Let the games begin!

Where I spent New Year's day. How can you not feel at peace sitting amongst such beauty?