Sunday, June 29, 2014

Little Happies ~10~

Linking up with Stephanie for Little Happies. (Stephanie, I'm more convinced than ever that I would love for LH's to be more than once a month, but I really will accept whatever you think is best! Also, very well aware that I speak as someone who hasn't had the time and/or wherewithal to be that on top of joining in the last few weeks.  But I WANT to join every week, so does that count??)

This is a fun week.  I thought about saving some of these for the next week, but then I thought, nope next week's happies can take care of themselves.  I'm just going to dump a bunch now, including some from previous weeks since I was not on top of it enough to get them in before.

Man, where to start? How about a photo dump? Because hiking always makes me happy! (If this was a showing in a gallery, we could call it "Doors, Flowers, and Mountains.")

1) "Ghost town":

An old rusty bridge, but there's a mountain in the background, so it works.

Post office doors

Fake flowers in the window at the ghost town
Still in the ghost town...
 2) Random flowers:
I absolutely LOVE cactus flowers!
 3) Hiking last weekend:
Sunset (we had to camp the night before)

Cannot get enough of teeny tiny alpine flowers!

See what I mean? (These are maybe half the size of your fingernail in real life)

Reflections are a definitely a happy!

4) Hiking this weekend:
I love being above tree line!

I love mountain lakes! And that sky!!
5)The wind on the mountain this weekend kept making me laugh. It was crazy intense and cold, but fun. We were doing a fairly mild hike up a wide, flat ridge, so I wasn't too worried about the wind blowing us over the edge, or we would not have continued on. (Our summit for the week was just above the snow you see on the top of the last photo. So we really did not want to get too close to the edge.) Anyway, it made me laugh, because when we got to the top of the saddle (lower place between two peaks), the wind was funneling through there. I leaned forward and let the wind hold me up, which it kind of did, so that was fun.  Then we were walking with it to the side of us, and when I would pick up my foot to take a step, the wind would blow it across my other foot! It only last for a short time until my brain figured out how to adjust for it, but it was funny while it lasted. Yes, I know there's something wrong with me for enjoying the elements that much when they are that intense, but there's just something about being out there in the midst of it that I can't describe, but absolutely love.

6) This week I pushed myself in the gym to the point that I almost wanted to puke.  When I felt like that, I smiled. You see, this week our instructor was on vacation, and I see myself as someone that doesn't work out hard at a gym. Which is silly, because I've been working out hard at a gym for months now, but always with someone telling me what to do. This week, I decided to prove to myself that I could work out hard with or without an instructor.  It was very exciting to me to reach that point. (The point of working hard, I wasn't trying to get to that point, specifically.)  I'm still really glad our instructor is back next week. It's much more fun that way and I can't imagine self motivating week in and week out at that level, but I'm really glad I had the chance for that day.

7) Some amazing greek yogurt that I've had recently.  I mostly avoid dairy, but I was trying to add back in just a little bit. My stomach wasn't totally thrilled with it, but it wasn't too bad as long as I don't eat too much of it. I found this brand that tasted absolutely amazing! Totally worth it!

8) Kind of a big happy: My car sustained some cosmetic damage a few weeks ago! I am SO excited! Not because of the damage, but because I took it in to get an estimate and they cut me a check. I'm definitely not getting it fixed; the car is getting oldish and has a lot of miles on it. Some people have said to me, "Oh, so it's not that noticeable, huh?" Who really cares? It's noticeable all right, but I'm just going to say it adds character. So what if that character has a distinctly ghetto vibe? At the end of my life, I'm going to love that I drove a dented car and treasure the fact that it financed a trip to visit a good friend of mine. Who lives in Europe.

Yep. I'm working on the details, and it'll be a little ways off, but it's going to happen and I can't wait! :)


Sunday, June 22, 2014

What I Wore Sunday and Other Clothing Madness

What I Wore Sunday linkup

I don't normally join WIWS, but this weekend, I actually had my act together. I paired my black and white skirt with black shoes and shirt instead of navy like last week. I thought I'd share since I actually matched in Mass today:

Excuse the odd positioning. I was trying to get a picture that showed the details of the shoe, because they have kind of a lacy/crocheted thing going on.  The picture still failed to pick it up.

In other clothing problems of the week (totally first world problems!), what is it with the skinny pants craze and when can it go away enough that there are other options?! I was shopping this week and attempting to find some pants that actually fit, particularly pants to wear to work.  EVERYthing is this skinny pants nonsense.  Now, some are not as bad as others, but most of these pants do NOT work for me. I have a butt and hips, people! As it should be, I might add. I should have gotten a shot of the one pair I tried on. Skin tight the whole way, definitely gave me an ice cream cone vibe.  Even worse than the ice cream cone pants of old (you know the ones I mean?), because these were (as I mentioned) skin tight

Also, my Stitch Fix came, and my Stitch Fix went.  I didn't even bother posting. Nothing worked that well.  One shirt was nice, but not worth the price as far as I was concerned. My main issue was that I had given some specific feedback after the last one that seemed to be totally ignored. Meh.

I also did some online shopping because I am in big need of shirts. I doubt I'll do much online shopping. I really need to try things on.  I really like some of the things I got, and I may have to return some others.  Still, I did a way better job than Stitch Fix did this time around. Are you tired of helping me figure out clothes, or should I post something about the shirts that still have me up in the air?

Anyway, it's nice to have some clothes that fit again, and I really appreciate being able to do some shopping as needed.  

Oh, yeah! I almost forgot to give you the details from the stuff above.  In an anomaly for me, there is no NY&C anywhere in this outfit.

Shirt: White House Black Market (I can only afford the sales, but some of the sales can be fantastic!)
Skirt: The Loft
Shoes: (which are cuter IRL) DSW

Monday, June 16, 2014

Little Happies ~9~

How about we start out that I'm happy that I have things together enough to join Stephanie and participate in Little Happies this week?  I've been enjoying reading everyone else's, and each week I kept thinking that I wanted to join in, but just couldn't get things together.

1) Maybe my biggest Little Happy is that the wildflowers are blooming! I love, love, love the wildflowers and we've had a lot of rain this year so they're going nuts.  What's that? You'd like some examples? Ask and ye shall receive.

2) I went shopping the other day. This is still a constant source of surprise and fun to me. As active as I've been since I've moved out here, my sizes didn't start to drop until I dropped gluten and dairy last year.  Then they dropped a little more when I started spin last fall.  I still feel like I'm getting the wrong sizes to try on (you ever feel like someone's going to roll their eyes at you for getting a "wishful thinking" size to try on, or is that just me?) and then I'm shocked when they fit! I actually had one pair of shorts where I had to grab a smaller size yet! This was especially shocking since I've actually been up a couple of pounds in the last month or so compared to most of the winter.  It's weird how the brain can take a while to catch up with knowing where the body actually is, and we can't see what others see sometimes.

3) The upshot of all of this is: New outfit. :) Is it wrong that I was looking forward to Mass since Thursday just so I could wear the new outfit? Shockingly shallow, I know, but it definitely made me happy! Even though I'm dealing with a rounded neckline and I prefer V-neck.  Minor details! Even though I really liked the outfit, I did notice right at the beginning of church that what I thought was a white and navy pattern in the skirt was actually black and white.  So I didn't match nearly as well as I thought I did. Oops.  I guess it just means that I have to get a skirt with some navy in it as well. I have some black shirts that will go great with the skirt.  I was going to post a photo, but I'll wait until I match.  Not that you would have been able to tell from a photo anyway. And, yes, I was distracted for the rest of Mass by my mismatched state, even though I wasn't in the least concerned that anyone would notice. I noticed, and that's what I cared about. Again, shallow as shallow can be.

4) Tired of clothes yet? Me, neither! I'm also happy that I have another Stitch Fix coming up.  Since I just got some new shirts and I wasn't on top of it enough to ask for some pants and/or capris (which is what I really need now), I will be surprised if I find that much to keep, but I still look forward to seeing what ideas I get.  You know I'll be looking for feedback from you all!

5) Got to go on a great hike with a friend this weekend, and spent at least a couple hours above tree line. That's always a happy thing, and especially with it being one of the first few times of the year, and the first time that some of the snow was gone and the flowers were out. Love it up there!

6) Beautiful, amazing sunrise!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

On Days When the Plan Seems Really, Really Messed Up

After I wrote my last post, I realized that it's still missing something.  There are days that are not so bad, and days that are fantastically wonderful even in the midst of whatever struggle someone is going through. But there are also days (and too often those days can stretch into months and years) where there is just darkness in the struggle. Then what? Because I want to realize that He is faithful in the darkest times where nothing makes any sense at all and it all hurts, not just in the times where things are good despite not getting what I want.

Thankfully, I haven't spent much time in that place lately. This post will be written more from a point of looking back rather than current experience.  And that may be the only way to write a post like this, because in the middle of the worst of it, how can there be the kind of perspective that allows for seeing a plan? The problem with seeing God's plan in the darkness is that everything is all one big mixed up mess.

When everything hurt, and hurt terribly, I wondered why God was either causing this pain or didn't care enough to fix it. I couldn't figure out what could possibly be the purpose of leaving me alone. Was it because I just wouldn't make a good wife or mother? Was it because there was a greater plan? Why did He think I cared about a greater plan, when all I wanted was for the pain to stop? Why was He causing so much pain and sending so little relief?

Looking back, I realize that I attributed everything to God and His plan at that time. It was horrible.  God seemed to have a seriously messed up plan. I didn't see that His plan had nothing to do with the pain and suffering.  He was not the cause of my being alone. It wasn't His plan for things to hurt so bad. The suffering, death, sin, natural disasters and all the rest are not actively a part of His plan.  He allows them, but He doesn't pull the strings for them to happen. Cancer is not part of his plan. Children dying is not part of His plan. People killing each other through either negligence or malice is not part of His plan. Parents abandoning children is not part of His plan. On and on the list goes.

So much suffering is senseless, and leaves us grasping at all kinds of painful reasons as to why we have to go through such things.  We want to know why.  There has to be a reason, doesn't there? If something is going to be that awful, there has to be something that we did to deserve it, or some reason that God doesn't love us, or some reason that it will all be okay in the end.

What I am finally realizing and have been talking about some here is that the author of death, confusion, chaos is all about the senselessness of it all. The Author of Life, however, does have a plan in the midst of it.  He has a plan to redeem every tear.  To take every moment of the senselessness and make it deeply meaningful.

I don't think it's His plan to break us beyond recognition.  I think that the breaking is going to happen to all of us as some point in our lives.  The question is, do we seek Him and His plan to not only heal us, but to restore us to His original plan for our lives, or do we turn from Him and remain broken?

In the middle of the pain, I could not figure out why God was causing me so much pain and I remember lashing out at Him a lot.  From my perspective now, I wonder how I could have blamed Him for it all.  Just as I am writing this, it occurs to me to wonder about something.  You know how anytime that we are angry, hurting, etc, we lash out at the ones closest to us?  Maybe the reason that it all seemed like God's fault at the time is because He was the One that was closest in the middle of it all.

Friday, June 6, 2014

On Days Where There Really Does Seem to be a Plan

One week ago today, my sister didn't know where her next paycheck was coming from.  She didn't know if she was going to have to move out of the community that she has become a part of and away from the kids who have become a part of her life. If she did have to move, she didn't know where it would be.  There were no fun summer plans for her as a teacher because, no money. Talking to her in the middle of all that was great though.  I don't remember what day we talked, but sometime over the weekend last week. Even when she was frustrated about God taking His own sweet time to reveal a plan for her, she just figured He would show her the way. This is after a year of trusting on a paycheck to paycheck sort of a basis, with some odd job or something always coming up to supplement as needed.

This week, there is a job that opened up at the last minute, and the offer that more or less got made to her ahead of schedule, all allowing her to stay where she is.  So she now has a place to be and job to sustain.  Oh, yeah. And she gets to go to Paris. For free. (More or less.) I just love it.  I love seeing the way that she is willing to roll with whatever comes, and how much things have changed in just a week!

Here's the thing, though.  I don't want to get all prosperity gospel on this and say, "See! God had a plan and it all worked out!" It's as if since she trusted enough, God let her stay in her community, get a job, and as an added reward: free trip to Paris! There's part of me that just doesn't see it that way.  Because if every person who struggles with IF faithfully and gets pregnant or adopts in the end because "it's God's plan", then what about those that are just as faithful, but never have children? If, as a single person, all of this is part of God's plan to bring just the right person in my life at just the right time, then I'm kind of ticked that I had to wait so much longer than everyone else. If God's plan means that everyone eventually gets what they want after whatever is deemed a sufficient amount of struggle, then what about when God says no? Not now, not ever?

The plan I am starting to see is God's plan to be faithful in the midst of it, whatever "it" is.  I think if we are willing to go where He leads, even if it is uncomfortable, He will make that something beautiful to see, both in our lives and the lives of those around us. I want to get married, and even though I would be a little older, I would still love to have kids.  But whether that happens or whether that doesn't, I still want to say, "See, here is God's plan, all along, right in the midst of it."  I don't want to wait until or if I get married before I see His faithfulness that is always there.

Today I had a glimpse of His plan in my life.  Almost exactly 4 years ago (was the 6th moving day? I think it was!),  I moved out to the mountains.  It was not that long ago, and it was a lifetime ago.  Anyway, I realized this today, and I also got an email today that made me think about it again.  The email, addressed to me, referred to me as an athlete.  I wanted to look over my shoulder to see who the heck they were talking to. Especially because it was an athlete that was writing the email, and I felt like surely they could see that I was not an athlete.  It was a fleeting moment, because I am an athlete, I just forgot for a second. Because 4 years ago I was not an athlete, and I could not imagine seeing myself as such.

Four years ago, I didn't know a cam from a carabiner.  I didn't know what a couloir was. I never thought about waiting until the morning of trash day to take the trash out in order to avoid bears and other critters combing through it. I couldn't imagine the need for an SLR camera. I got out of breath going up a flight of stairs. I never, ever saw myself as an athlete.  I have learned and mastered treatment techniques that I had never heard of before moving here. I thought moving to the mountains might be the way I would finally find a husband. I had no idea that it would be a place where I finally found some pieces of myself that are integral to who I am, but that I didn't even know existed.

Let's go back another 4 years before that, when I was just getting out of PT school.  I thought that I needed to move to the mountains (see, clearly the mountains were always a part of the picture). But instead I found myself "back home". I needed to be there at that time. That was the job that trained me to be an actual PT instead of a student. At the time, it was exactly what I needed. That was where I met the most awesome group of friends, bar none. They were some of the first people that I felt completely at home with. I could be myself, and be accepted at a level that we all want to be known, loved and accepted, but not everyone gets to experience. I don't know exactly how to say it, but I needed that before I could come out here and do what I've done here.

I could write similar paragraphs about experiences in grad school, college, and most of all, my family.

I see God's plan in the here and now. In this life that I live and in all of the experiences that make this life what it is. In the ways that He has helped me discover things that I never suspected about myself, and in the ways that I get to be a part of other people's lives. This is God's plan. In the midst of the mess and the suffering (His plan is NOT the mess and the suffering). In the midst of the joy and beautiful surprises. Discovering more deeply who He is, and who we are. Marriage and babies may be a part of that plan someday, but it is not dependent on that. 

Tonight, I go to bed rejoicing in blessings NOT in disguise, in the form beautiful friendships in many areas of my life, hiking and generally being able to spend time in the mountains, a job and trip for my sister and some beautiful pregnancies.  Praying for many more blessing not in disguise for all of you, my friends!

7 Quick Takes Friday: Allergies, More Allergies, and my Sister Is Seizing the Day

1) I feel like I'm in a haze.  Oh, wait. I am.  The amount of pollen in the air right now is ridiculous. Got to go on a great hike today (because why would you want to stay inside when you have allergies and the pollen count is off the charts?) and at one point we saw the wind blow a nice cloud of pollen into the air.

My eyes are burning and have dark circles.

It's the allergies.

My brain is in a fog.

It's the allergies.

My asthma has been making itself known.

It's the allergies.

I got a new homeopathic remedy today to try, but I refuse to try it until tomorrow morning.  I'm already propping my eyes open each day, so if this makes me tired, I hopefully won't see a huge difference.  But I am NOT jeopardizing a perfectly good night's sleep for this. I admit to having certain reservations for unknown homeopathic remedies that don't have FDA oversight, but then I realize that I think so little of FDA oversight that I trust their regulated remedies less. Logical? Maybe not, but I'm fine with blaming that on the allergies as well.

2) The allergies have kicked the asthma up a little to just out of the "controlled" range.  I am hoping if I can get them to settle down a bit, the asthma will calm down as well. I gave myself an asthma attack on Monday (though I have a hard time recognizing them as such because they don't fit my preconceived notions of being barely able to talk or breathe; I can breathe, I just can't breathe well enough to work out at my normal level). Wednesday I was a little short of breath before I even started my workout, so I took it a little easier.  It annoyed the snot out of me, but I avoided any further shenanigans, so it was worth it.

3) I will say that the workout was what reminded me (again, because I need lots and lots and lots of reminders) that life isn't about what you can't do, it's about what you can do.  I know I mentioned this on fb, and the workout was what brought it on, but those of you that read here and saw that on there are the ones that know where it all REALLY makes a difference. Anyway, for the purposes of the workout, I was complaining to a friend before class that I couldn't work out like I wanted to and that the breathing thing was annoying me.  But then I had to remind myself to focus on what I could do: I was in class and I could work out.  As the class got started, I realized that the class was perfect for working on my average watts (resistance x speed).  When I reminded myself to focus on what I could do, I was able to keep that average up.  In the end, my average heart rate was lower than normal, and my peak watts were WAY lower than normal, but my average watts were actually up.  By focusing on what I could do, I got a really good workout without an asthma attack, even if I couldn't quite push the way I wanted to.

4) These are really long takes today.  Sorry!  Here's a quick one. I mentioned that I have a new smart phone. It's the fruity kind.  What are the apps that I didn't know that I couldn't live without?  Do you have any favorites that you just love?

5) Okay, my sister texted me the other day with the info that she'll soon be heading to Europe.  Seriously? She doesn't have any money and she won't do something like that on credit, so what the heck? Turns out that there's some connection to someone who has tickets and a time share that "need to be used up".  She is all over it.  It's all about helping someone out, right?  And where do I get signed up to know the people that have travel and lodging to Europe to spare??

6) This reminds me of one of the funnier things I saw recently on fb.  I couldn't find the actual ecard for you, but here's what it said:

Whenever I start to feel spontaneous and adventurous, my bank account tells me to calm the hell down.
As someone that just looked up flights to visit a friend in Europe? Yes, yes indeed. Another one that absolutely cracked me up:

A positive attitude may not be enough to solve all your problems... But it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort!

 7) And finally a photo:
Believe it or not, that's Spring.  Can you tell I'm itching to get back on the trail?
 (Haha, stupid allergy pun, but still true.)

Have a wonderful weekend and head over to Jen's for more Quick Takes!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Shifting Perspectives

Someone recently asked me how you move past the place of feeling like God has forgotten about you and move on, even when your long held prayers and desires are still unanswered.  I thought a long time before I answered, and then when I did answer, I feel like I gave a horribly crappy answer.  The simple reason for this being that I have no idea how to move from the place of bitterness. I feel like I am somewhat past it (certain bitter moments notwithstanding), but I don't completely remember how I got here.

I have continued to think about it, and I think that there are a couple of things that come into play.  First and foremost, there was a time in my life where things were so painful, and it seemed so pointless to follow God that I flat out questioned whether I still wanted to follow Him or not.  It was a fork in the road kind of a moment. I still remember where I was at the time this decision was in front of me. Toward Him, or away.  I realized that even when everything about faith seemed pointless and it felt like He'd left me, I still would rather chase after Him than get everything I ever wanted, and not have Him be a part of it.  It was only grace in that moment, and I am thankful for so many people in my life praying for me, or I think the answer could have been very different.

The rest of it comes down to shifting perspectives.

Shift 1: There was a time where I believed the fb life.  I thought that people that had what I wanted had everything that they really needed.  I tried to wrap my head around the fact that everyone has their struggles, but I honestly felt like their struggles just had to be so much less. However, in opening my heart (and ears) a little more, I can finally see that having everything that I want does not make the struggles go away. A lot of times, we are all still struggling with the same thoughts, fears, and pains. It's not quite the same shape, but the essence is much the same.

Shift 2: Seeing that having faith and following God do not always mean that we get our deepest desires in this life.  I would have sworn that I didn't believe in the prosperity gospel (the better you follow God, the more health, wealth and happiness you have in this life), but on a certain level, I was living like it.  Surely if I followed God well enough, He would bless me with a husband and children. I had to shift away from feeling like my faith meant that I should get what I want and realize that following God means following Him in whatever my circumstances are.

Shift 3: One of the tough things about being single and feeling called to marriage, is that you don't feel that you are truly living out your vocation. If a vocation is a holy calling by God, then you do feel forgotten by God as well as by the men who seem uninterested. It feels like I can't follow God very well in a single life that is somewhat inherently selfish when I should be giving of myself to my husband and children. It seems like the opportunities to give of yourself in singleness sometimes seem transient and tiny. But the problem with my thinking there was that I was making the vocation itself my god.  We are all universally called to holiness, and if God wants to leave me here, then I can offer the tiny bit that I have rather than what I would like to give, but don't have.

Shift 4: Learning more deeply what it means to live in this moment.  One of the toughest parts about being single is thinking about being single for the next 20 years. But I don't have to be single for the next 20 years. I just have to do it right now.  Right now has its ups and downs, but there is plenty of good along with the sad and right now is doable.  I don't know what will happen over the next 20 years, but I only have to take them one day at a time, not as a whole.

Shift 5: Understanding that suffering itself doesn't come from God, but from the devil. It is meaningless and stupid because of the chaos that it comes from.  God doesn't cause the suffering, but He can and does redeem it to make beauty out of it, some of which we will see here and now, and much of which we will not see in this life.

I'm not sure if that still makes any sense.  I can tell you that I still have days (and months) that slap me around, but while they make me sad, I would not say that I feel bitter most of the time, and I get a lot less angry.  I also am able to enjoy the amazing things about my life a lot more and realize that there are a whole lot of amazing things about this life that I have, things that I wouldn't have experienced if I had the life that I wanted. That is another great shift in perspective. This is my life, and I want to live it, whether I am single forever or meet someone tomorrow.