The Problem with No Problem

Most of us grow up having drilled into our heads the words “please”, and “thank you”. We were reminded or scolded should these important words not be heard from our lips in the appropriate situation. While some traditions change over time, it seems the concept of manners and certain etiquette are still socially accepted and taught. We learn other things as well, like the valuable lesson from Thumper, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all”, and the idea that a compliment and/or a smile can brighten someone’s day. We learn the importance of generosity, patience, and kindness. We learn that it feels good to help someone. We learn so much as to how we ought to behave, not merely because it is what we are told to do, but because it feels good to do so.
I say “we” a lot.
I wish this was the case. I wish some of these values and manners and such, were woven into our very beings. Sadly, some of us are painfully aware of how far from the truth this is. We see fellows cursing in front of young children; angry customers reaming out the cashier-in-training; people ignoring the shopper who dropped his/her groceries on the pavement; people sneering and loudly vocalizing opinions on raising a child when they come across one having a fit. We live in a world of a superior “Me“; We can say whatever we dang well please; we yell and demand and have come to realize that half of the continent is completely incompetent.
We are inherently self-centered, selfish beings. Even the compliments we give aren’t accredited to the person we are complimenting, but rather, our own stamp of approval. “ I love your shirt!”
Jumping back to the “thank you” thing too; it seems “you’re welcome” has been replaced with “No problem”.  (or “Yup”,; “You betcha”). The problem with “No problem”? It kind of translates to, “It’s okay, you didn’t inconvenience me“. Maybe that works in some situations, but perhaps not all. I am terribly guilty of this; at work especially, where I frequently reply to thank you with “Yup!” Perhaps it is a cultural thing, but lets not completely butcher the English language. ( We’ll save that for social media ;))
Let’s try to be good people; to say please and thank you and you’re welcome. Let us be slow to anger, slow to judge, quick to help out. And may we do things not because it is expected of us, but – as mentioned previously – because it feels good and right to do so.

I’m Not Boring… Am I?

20141101_004949editBetween work and school, my husband and I don’t get a lot of social time. It’s just a hectic season I guess. On top of all the assignments, studying, driving back and forth (we share one vehicle, which often seems unfathomable by others living in this money-town) and attempts at cooking, we are really just too tired to do much else in any free time available, except eat as we watch reruns of Friends.
So, when we received an invite to a friend’s party, and one that we both were actually able to go to, we were quite excited. The dork in me declared, “We are gonna get our social on!” Friday came, we suited up and were on our way.
Thankfully, the evening started with an ice breaker. (The one where you ask questions to figure out the name of the sticker on your back.) It’s a huge deal for me just to go up to someone and start talking; I have these shy tendencies that I unfortunately never grew out of. So the game was a good excuse to approach people at random.

This was short-lived though, and I was soon stuck to my own devices to navigate this unfamiliar social phenomenon called conversation. I tried my darndest to listen intently; I tried to ask questions. But everything I said just sounded so… awkward. At least to me, anyways. And then, a topic came up that was completely out of my realm of expertise ( and it seems most things are), and I’m still trying to be a good listener. Trying too hard – because suddenly, I am acutely aware of my facial expressions, and then like dominoes down a hill, so goes my attention…
What do I do with my arms? Down? Crossed? No, not crossed… I need a cup to hold onto…
Do I look in their eyes? Or their face? What’s less creepy?
Oh no, I think I’m doing that Muppet-smile again…

Part way through the evening, I was talking with a fellow, and upon learning I had lived in the area for a very long time, he asked what I like to do for fun.
For fun?
I was stumped.
“I… don’t know” I finally replied, and tried to shrug it off with (what I hoped was) a charming smile. ” Guess I’m not a very good one to answer that!” I could have ended there; better yet, I wish I had come up with something like, hang out with friends, travel, bake; just anything but what I said next, which was,
“I guess I’m kind of a homebody.”
What the what??

I don’t think I’ve ever identified myself as a homebody before. While it may be true that I spend a lot of evenings at home, it is not because I Like to be alone, I just… there’s just… I don’t know…
I’ve been dwelling on this conversation all weekend. Am I a homebody? Why don’t I have any hobbies currently? What am I doing with my life???
Am I …
B o r i n g ? ?

All this makes me thankful for mini-communities. Places with familiar faces, where everyone shares at least one thing in common, and if you wish, you can discuss (at length) that one common thing. Like, at school, at work, family, even at Church. These places make me feel accepted; they make me feel like I’m not completely socially inept.
It is absurd that a conversation or two left me feeling so self-conscious. The following day I had even considered making up a list of small-talk questions, and filling out answers for myself, so that future conversations and questions wouldn’t leave me so stumped and awkward.
Twenty-six years old, and I’m still learning how to be an adult.

Oh well.

I think I’m going to go make that list now.
Good night!

I had a Vision…

I saw a sign…
Suddenly, I just knew –
that was what I had to do.

Have you ever stepped into something new, and knew 100% that was where you were supposed to be? Knew 100% that, that was where God wanted you?

Well, my confession is, I rarely feel 100% sure about anything. I over-analyze and allow myself to become plagued with self-doubt. And I think, God, I know it’s a silly thing to ask, but can you just give me a sign? Something bright and flashy; or even a thumbs up? Because I’m just not… 100% sure…
So I pray and wait. And wait. Until suddenly a deadline in some form forces me to commit, or not commit. I fill in the form; I hit ‘Apply’. I take a deep breath. I wait again. This time though, instead of waiting for the ‘go-ahead’ from God, I am waiting for a sudden and abrupt ‘STOP’ sign.
Nothing happens. Three months later and still nothing. (That is, of the miraculous and unexplained variety, that I sort of mentioned a second ago. Nope. No bright and flashy whatsoever. )
So maybe nothing is a good sign?

I sure hope so.

Now 8 years out of high school,  I have decided to  go back to school. It was an option that had tugged at the back of my brain, on and off, for the past few years, but for what would I go back for?  I requested information packages every year; some were studied almost religiously, others not even opened.
Over the years, I grew to realize I love kids. ( Perhaps largely due to the abundance of awesome nephews and nieces I have!) I love to see them learn and grow;  I enjoy their crazy imaginations and their eagerness to share every discovery.
So, I filled in the form, I hit ‘Apply’. And in the Fall, I will begin the Educational Assistant Program.
I’m excited. I’m scared. And I really hope this is where God wants me to be.

Write or Wrong?

One of these days I might write something worth reading.
By that I mean, write something bigger than just a some random blog ramblings.
I’m trying to read more this summer. I’m quite terrible for putting down a half-read book, and not picking it up again until I’ve used up all my renewals. I never thought of myself as a bookworm, but I do generally enjoy reading  and trips to the library. I can sometimes peruse the shelves for up to an hour, hoping one  will be a gem.
However, occasionally I will trudge through a mediocre book, just to get to the end and confirm that it was indeed, mediocre. Or a cheesy book; a cheesy book that is predictable and cliché and ends with the happily ever after. Although the latter, I confess, I don’t mind once in a while. 20140623_150356edit
Sometimes, I get to thinking that maybe I too, could write a fiction story. I have no idea what about; maybe a drama, or a romantic comedy, or a tragedy… But in the back of my head I hear, ‘Write what you know’. And I think, what do I know? I know how to clean a car… I know retail… I know baking… My options are limited here! But is that really a thing? To write what you know?  Or perhaps that is just a jumping off point for wannabe writers…
I DO want to write more. Whether that happens on this blog, or somewhere else. Maybe I’ll give that fiction-writing some more thought.
Until then, anyone have some good book suggestions?

I hate running

Perhaps you do too. Or maybe, you are one of the few that run quite regularly. If the latter describes you, Kudos to you. No sarcasm. I wish I could run.  To stretch one long limb in front of the other, repeatedly, quickly, and without tiring. To feel the wind in my hair, and my surroundings blur around me. I just want to be like that speedy little kid from the Incredibles; is that so much to ask?
My body wheezes ‘Yes. Yes that is much too much to ask!’
I’ve made approximately 3 running attempts this year. The first couple minutes are great; I get to thinking that maybe I can do this after all! I feel optimistic and strong. I match my breathing to my strides, and thank God for another beautiful day.
But it goes quickly downhill from there.
Eventually, I find myself dragging my feet in a turtle-speed walk.  I look at the trees around me and think, if a cougar were to jump out at me right now, I would let it have me. This is my new attitude. That is until I spy another being approaching me on the trail, in which I then feel I absolutely must run so I don’t look so pathetic. So I was passing a mother with a stroller, when from the stroller I hear,
” Hey you Idiot!”
The three year old just confirmed how lame I am.

I think from now on, I will take swimming over running.

And I can’t even swim.

On and Off

There are some days, when the lyrics to a Relient K song paint me so well;

“On and off, the clouds have fought for control over the sky;
And lately, the weather has been so bipolar, and consequently so have I.”

There is not one sunny day lately, that isn’t eventually clouded over with rain. I went for a walk. Or attempted to, rather. Halfway down the block, the scheming breeze pulled at my sweater, and I clasped my hand over my collar to keep it out. The ominous clouds approaching from the south choked out the sun, and I soon lost all desire to walk the 30 minutes to Starbucks; instead, promptly turning on my heel back towards home.
So I sit here and dream of somewhere warmer; somewhere with real seasons, real spring and summer, real sunshine, and of course a really nice lake to dip into.
I try to be happy and grateful for whatever I have; for whatever circumstances life brings me to and through.
But sometimes, I just get so darn restless. I long for change. Change that I can see; that I can mold and make happen. Change that I can control.
I have so much freedom, but seem to know not how to retrieve it.  I have a life full of potential and possibilities, but I know not how to unleash it. I have community, but know not how to open up to it and appreciate it.
I have an abundance of blessings,
yet they lay trumped by my self-pitying party.

And yet, through the dark grey clouds, the sun still shines.
And it will set. Then rise again.
No matter how dark and rainy the days may get.


There’s this song that has been played more and more frequently on the radio lately. It wiggles its way into my head, and I can’t help but start dancing. With a name like “Happy”, how could anyone resist?

I guess a part of me is striving for this, as the days grow brighter and warmer. But it is not so much a quest, as it is learning to live a life of renewed perspective; a life of loving the person God made me to be, serving others more, making time for the people and things in my life that truly matter. And I think, happiness is sort of by-product of that.
I don’t really know. I’m just thinking – er, typing – out loud.

What are some things that make you happy?