Monday, July 29, 2013

Rules of the Road

I wonder what happens to us after we get our license. We get into our big bad vehicles and we loose that sense of responsibility that was instilled in us. The rules of the road fly out the window onto the road and we run them right over....


As you grow older and "wiser" (Really?! I begin to question this), you start to use less caution. You begin to change lanes without a turn signal - expecting others to just know you are coming into their lane and to get out of the way. You think that because you are in a bigger vehicle or a faster vehicle that you have the right away in a merging situation even when you don't and you cause multiple vehicles around you to almost cause accidents because you are careless of others and only thinking of where you want to be or where you want to go. What about the motorcyclists who swerve in and out of traffic, completely ignoring the rules and regulations set forth by law enforcement - driving on the dotted line between two vehicles. What if they didn't see you, what if they went to change lanes, what if they swerved a little to the left or right - you would be squashed on the pavement. 

Is where you are going that important that you must break all the laws in order to get there a few moments faster - or not faster at all?! Haven't you ever been on the highway with that jerk that cut everyone off and sped past everyone - just to get off the highway and be sitting at the same light as him waiting and turning at the same time as him. He didn't get anywhere any faster than you - you obeyed most or all of the laws and he broke most or all of the laws. It didn't seem to prove him any good now did it?

Or there is the instance of the guys pulled over in the middle or the side of the road having a road rage battle because someone cut someone off - really? How adult can we really be about all of this. Can we not share the four lane highway and all get along? Or do we have to bring the playground and politics onto the highway as well. It is as if we get those keys in our hands and we suddenly feel a little bit more powerful. We sit in the seat and are behind the wheel... just that much more powerful. O and don't even mention turning on the car and hearing the engine roar... that just makes you pee your pants because you can't even handle all the power you feel now... 

Really? What is it about driving and cars that brings out the need for power and control in people. So much need that we cause such a ruckus that we aren't even through July and there are already almost 600 highway accident deaths flashing on the screens as I drive down the road. Can we not control it? Can we not just utilize the vehicle for what it was made for? a form of transportation that will get us from point a to point b.

Don't get me wrong - I struggle with this. I struggle with road rage. When the guy in front of me is going 80 and is a few car lengths ahead and suddenly for no reason slams on his breaks and almost causes a multi car pile up .... well I might do the Chicago hand shake in my car and yell out - what the hell?! But then I have to just tuck all that away and get back to driving. I try to imagine all the reasons that would justify a sudden break such as this that would make it okay and excuse away this behavior so that I am not mad at said man for doing such a thing and almost causing me to rear end him... Then I start thanking God that he had my back and I was paying so close of attention to the road that I had cat like reflexes and didn't rear end him. It's a process... but I get over my road madness pretty quickly. Because I will not allow such meaningless things to stress me out or ruin my day. 

The other day I was watching some tv show and there was a man telling his story of how he ended up in prison. He got into a fight with a guy over a road rage issue. They were fighting on the side of the road - it turned physical and he defended himself. He ended up killing the other guy out of defense, but he also ended up spending life in prison. 

Now tell me... is it worth it... over a lane change... to give up your entire life?

Think about all the people who don't look before they change lanes - who text and drive - who roll through stop signs - who don't drive 25 when kids are around.... etc... it's things like this that cause the accidents that take lives... 

Once I started opening my eyes to all the anger and aggression that would build inside of me while I was driving I started using that time differently. My drive time is my decompression time. Believe it or not - I utilize that time to destress. I know it sounds ironic, but it works. I pray - I blog (using Siri) - I sing - turn the music up - whatever it takes to decompress is what I do. It has definitely changed that time for me and my entire commute. Not that I enjoy traffic any more than anyone else... believe me - I hate traffic - stop and go - construction - etc.... but I don't mind driving or having time in the car by myself. It's my area for solitude.

What do the rules of the road mean to you? What does a commute look like for you? How can it change? 

Pain






The thought of being 27 and not being able to get out of bed in the morning never crossed my mind. Or not being able to bump the volleyball around, or play and mindless games for that matter. How about take a short scenic walk with the boyfriend around a pond on a Sunday afternoon. All of these things I pay for the next day - or for the next week.

This morning I laid in bed in so much pain just as I did last Monday morning - I wondered if I would be able to get out of bed. Then I just convinced myself that I had to force myself to do it. The day would go on without me and I couldn't keep letting time pass by me. I am young and should not be allowing this to beat me the way it has been. But as I literally crawl my way into a sitting position in bed and push my way out of bed into a standing position I feel nothing but sharp shooting rigid pains through my back, hips, legs, etc. I wonder if there will come a day when this will not be the case.

Now here I am at work. Still in pain. My co-workers ask me if I am okay - or tell me they can tell that I am in pain because my eyes are puffy or my face is making that grimacing "in pain" face. I load up on ibuporfen and keep pushing forward. My mother tells me that pain is the body's way of telling you to slow down or that something is wrong... well yes of course I already know something is wrong, but I cannot afford to continue to slow down. I must keep pushing forward.

The doctors tell me that people get into a funk. They keep slowing down and then don't know when or how to speed back up. They don't want to push themselves because they don't want to hurt or feel pain. I am not like most patients, but I also have a high pain tolerance. So when I say I am in pain - that means a lot...

So - what to do now... I still have another week before my doctor visit when they will tell me what the plan is as far as medication goes. And until then I am just in the same holding period I have been in since then. So ... here's to the new life.... putting new meaning to the term pain is gain....

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Shopping - what an experience

Phase 2: shopping. So I went with my friend Kim shopping and what an experience. 

We started at old navy and meant to conquer jeans. My problem with jeans is my body is uniquely shaped. When they fit in the waist they are baggy in the leg and butt. If they fit in the leg and butt area then they are too snug in the waist. Thank God for the creator of stretch jeans! Because that's what we ended up with. They fit perfect! 

Then we worked our way to washes... O wow! Can you believe a pant can have so many colors? And something about damage to the pant... There was a lot-

But more to come! Blouses and tops for work and such. So we piled on- literally. I think I might have looked like a walking clothing rack on my way to the dressing room. Haha. 

Blouses are usually the rough spot because I'm top heavy and it's hard to find things that fit well and don't look stretched or awkward. So here I am in the dressing room figuring out which for is best - and what sucks is when the hanger says something but you don't check the tag and then the shirt almost gets stuck! Ugh! That happened - but I learned my lesson - only happened once. 

The thing that was the best was that when I didn't like something or it didn't fit I was able to just throw it over the edge and Kim would go get something different or in a different size. It was nice to not have to trudge back and forth from the dressing room every time and search and search for the unknown - she was able to pick perfect things for me and get to know "my style" - a style I didn't even know I had. But we were successful here as well - we even found flats to match! 

Then we made our way to JcPenny and Target where we found another shirt, a necklace, and an adult belt (haha) - apparently my rockstar studded belt does not qualify as an adult or fashion acceptable belt. 

Finished the night with some much needed awesome girl talk. I missed all that fun. Not the spending money part, but definitely the girl time and girl talk. 

So - I came back with 
3 new pairs of jeans in different washes
1 new white floral skirt
1 new teal button down
2 new tan & white cardigans 
1 blue tank
1 blue sheer blouse 
1 tan flats 
1 new black belt
1 new necklace 

So just be on the look out for some new stylish outfits- lol. Overall it was a good experience. I was very anxious to go and I could not even imagine what it woods be like but it was good and I would go again! Well as soon as I save some spending money cause all that is gone now... 

But I would suggest a personal shopper for anyone starting out or who doesn't know where to start. For those who don't enjoy shopping or don't know what to buy. For those that struggle finding the right fit or finding the fits for you. It's perfect because you don't put in the effort and you get to enjoy the experience. You don't have to rack your brain over what to select or not and someone is there to tell you no or to build you up. It's the perfect opportunity. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Help opened a can of worms



Tonight I watched a movie that really struck a few chords inside of me. I don't know even where to begin. There were so many issues tackled in this movie and so many hard parts for me to watch - half the time I was laughing and the other half the time I was gasping!

Some of the tough topics were race/racism, parenting, abuse, women's rights, human rights, and just generally the way people treat each other.

Race = human population distinguished by physical, cultural, genetic, geographical, religious or social affiliation. 
Racism = hatred or intolerance of other races, discrimination, or a doctrinal belief that one's race is superior to another's race. 

Sometime I want to live in my own little bubble and believe that this is not a problem that we face, but I can look at my own life and know that I have been subject to racism in my past. But, seeing this depict in such a way as it was in this movie - just opened my eyes a little more. It is not just racism amongst the colors of our skin that face - it's against other cultures, religions, and societies as well. Just as the women did in this movie, I have seen it done before. Groups will shun a person because they don't fit in or don't belong. Societies will try to keep someone out because they feel they don't "fit in". Not because they aren't the same as them, because they don't deserve to be there, or because they cannot make room, but merely because they don't want them or don't feel they are deserving to be there. We do this every day in our clicks at work or school. We look across the room and shun that one person that is "different" from the rest of us. Really we all know there are no differences there, but we just need someone to pick on and make fun of. Someone to water cooler gossip about or someone to make ourselves feel better about us. Is that what we really need? Make others feel like a lower class or less of a person in order for us to feel better or of a higher class or society of people? We see it start as young as Junior High and High School ages with the jocks versus the geeks. Why do we praise this behavior? We are raising our future to become just like our past?! So very often we are pointing the finger and we miss the fingers that are pointing back at us!

MRS Degree.... When I was in my first semester of college there were many girls who were there looking for husbands. I didn't really understand why they weren't as focused on their studies and why they were so worried about dating. But soon enough I learned that they were there seeking their MRS degree while I was pursuing my BA degree. I actually wanted a degree, while all they wanted was a husband. I didn't get it when I was younger, but as I get older I do understand. Life is easy when you have someone to take care of you. When you never have to worry about taking care of yourself or fending for yourself. Paying your own bills or living on your own. Never knowing what lonely is. Life as a mother and wife is what they wanted. Never accomplishing anything else because that is all they ever dreamed of. The thought of having a job or pursuing a career was silly, unheard of, absurd. And if any woman stood in the way of that .... o boy was that a fight. I cannot tell you how many friendships fell to the holes because I found out those women thought I was trying to "steal" their men. Obviously those women weren't friends to begin with - and secondly - is it a bad thing I was there seeking community and friendship no matter your sexual orientation? I saw a lot of this in the movie as well. These women thought it was senseless for any girl to have a job - she should be seeking out a husband to marry and settle down with. She was to have a family, children, stay home and care for her family. This was meant to be her job, nothing else. I never have been the type to seek out an MRS degree, and I will never start that either. I am seeking out my future in many ways. I want to write. I want to pursue my dreams. I want to have a family in the future when the time is right and a husband is required for that - but when the time is right... 

Abuse = to wrongfully or improperly misuse one's authority, cause injury to, speak insultingly to, sexually assault. 

So many times we see things happen before our very eyes and we look the other way.... 

One minute we are all laughing because there are toilets all over a yard... the next minute you are gasping because you cannot even breathe... and you want to look the other way. I almost could not even bare it. But then you hear these quiet words.... 



The one woman who cares so greatly for that little girl is not the woman who gave birth to her, but the woman who is raising her. The one who isn't allowed to use the same bathroom as her or sit at the same table as her. That woman is the one who gets fired and wrongly accused of stealing. Also the woman who teaches that little girl the three most important things she needs to know that will carry her through her growing years. Notice ... You is beautiful is not on that list... because it doesn't need to be. That is not necessary for survival. A kind heart will carry you through. A smart brain will keep you educated. A level of importance will remind you that you belong on top. All of these qualities will build self esteem that will help a child get through a life where she is always beat down by her surroundings. 

Parenting doesn't stop at giving birth. It doesn't stop when your kid can feed them self or get off to school alone. It doesn't even stop after graduation or marriage. Parenting doesn't stop until you die. Even after that - your legacy lives on through them and everything you have taught that child will stick with them and be passed down through their parenting techniques. Family is so important and is a huge part of what makes a person who they are. The character built into a person stems from the background.... ask anyone you know... who are you? what makes you you... see what they say and how many of them talk about their family. How many of those stories are positive experiences and how many are negative?!

How is it that we carry on every day treating people so harshly? Is it because we think we have the right to? Because we think somewhere along the line we were given that right? Or because they wronged us so it's okay? Didn't we learn at a young age that two wrongs don't make a right?!

I know that I cannot save the world and I surely cannot start the movement for world peace. What I can do is challenge one person to challenge another to challenge another. Think about what the world would be like if we were more aware. What if we saw things from a different perspective? If we were intentional about sitting in "their" shoes.... (I don't know who their is ... but think about who that would be for you). What if you were treated the way that you generally treat other people. You may not even realize how you treat other people. Maybe the awareness needs to just start there. Observe the way you treat others. Down to the basics. Do you say please and thank you? Do you appreciate the little things like people holding doors for you? Do you hold doors for others? 

What can you do that will place someone else higher than you? John 13:1-17 Jesus washes his disciples feet. He tells them that he is not above them or below them and they are not greater or less than each other either. His example is set in order to teach them that everyone is equal and deserves to be treated in this way. Love is meant to be shared with everyone equally. No matter their race, religion, culture, or social affiliation. 

I know this can be such a hard concept to grasp sometimes... It's hard for me to really understand a lot of things, but then I have to remind myself that I am not always meant to understand everything, but to trust in everything and just keep on going. 

1 John 4:11 We are commanded to love others the way God loved us. 

Things are always easier said than done... but here we must go!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Itching for change....

Change is in the air... generally when I am itching for change I just go cut my hair.... lol. But, I decided I am going to let my hair grow - so now I cannot change that. I have to change something else. I cannot change the furniture because I am moving and switching things around inside the apartment really wouldn't make sense right now because I'm only gonna be here another two months. I can't paint... although if I had my own house that is definitely what I would be doing right now! I was convinced last night that I am too standard in my clothing selections ... so I have decided to partake in a little fashion consulting - thanks to my friend Kim!

Phase 1: Cleaning out the Closet



I must get rid of everything I have owned for long enough that it is old fashioned ... umm... so if I bought it while I was in high school or first couple years of college then it probably shouldn't be in my closet anymore. 1. because it probably doesn't fit. 2. because it's old and probably worn out. 3. because it's probably not in fashion anymore.

I have to get rid of everything that I don't fit in and that I am hoping to someday fit in again... umm
1. probably not going to fit back into so stop holding onto it and looking at it because that's just depressing and brings down the self esteem. 2. if there did come a time i could fit back into it - it won't be in fashion anymore. 3. wouldn't i want to celebrate that awesomeness with a shopping spree anyways?! YES!

How many clothes do you really wear on a regular basis? Think about the favorites in your closet that you pick out all the time and you wear over everything else. Think about all the other things that just sit there that never get worn or only get worn when everything else is dirty. Also... If I have the same style of jeans, but own 3 or 4 pairs... who knows when I am wearing clean, dirty, new, or old jeans if I am always wearing the same style? Also... if they are plain can they even be referred to as a style?

I have always hated shopping because I hate trying to fit my uniquely shaped body into clothes that are made for a standard body type that most people don't fit into. If I find something that fits - I'm that person that will buy it in multiple colors and just stop shopping because I don't want to have to keep trying things on. Also - I buy a lot of dark or black because I've been trained along the way that "black is slimming", "black is sexy", "black goes with everything". So - yes... I'm that girl.... ugh...

What not to wear... maybe I should have been looking at myself all these years and thinking that I should be evaluating my own closet and thinking that what I am wearing I shouldn't be wearing.

What's in my closet? Well ... that's a good question.

A wedding dress that I'm trying to sell... almost ready to just get rid of...
3 dresses from when I went to Vegas that I really can't wear anywhere else
20 designed t-shirts
8 plain colored v-neck t-shirts
20 long sleeve sweaters
10 dress tanks for work
4 black cardigans
3 black dress pants
2 black skirts
4 sundresses

Plus I just got rid of:
6 dress shirts that are 8+ years old
7 pairs of jeans that haven't fit in over 3 years
.... turtlenecks.... eek!
a couple pairs of capris...

Everything I have is pretty much standard. I never have been the person to purchase something that is "in style" or "trendy" because I wanted it to last as long as possible. I have come to realize that I don't need to shop all the time, but change now and then is a good thing.

Also - Owning 5-10 good quality items that I will wear all the time that I spend some money on will be worth it for me ... instead of trying to "save money" and end up spending more on the 20-50 items I end up buying and never wear half of them...

So... I'm itching for change and this time it will take place in my wardrobe. Which is a big deal. I haven't gone shopping in over 3 years... This is a really big change for me and a struggle. SO - we will see what phase 2 bring....

Keep an eye out for Phase 2: Shopping (Consultation by Kim)

Music on my tongue

So weird. Such a quirk. My thoughts in my head are like a continuous musical. When people say things - songs or lyrics pop into my head. Songs are always on the tip of my tongue / the only way to get them out is to let them be sung....



Everyone has their own quirks. I don't know if mine is because when I was younger my dad played this movie line/lyric line game with us. He would spout off a line from a movie or song and we would guess the name of the movie or song. We never earned a prize, just the satisfaction of knowing we knew the answer. 

Music has always been a very large part of my life. As a kid, my patents were both musically inclined. My mom would sing to us. My dad would drum on everything. Then there were all if us... We could really be a band. We have enough musical experience amongst each of us to make it work. There was always music playing and always singing along. I was always in the choir at church or school. The musicals and plays were always a part of my life growing up. 

I know this isn't normal for everyone because not everyone enjoys music or singing. It's crazy to think that people sit in their cars with the radio blaring and not a single note bursts from their lips! What?!? 

If my life were made into a movie - it would be a musical - for many reasons. My life is dramatic, musical, full of people, and the world would need to hear what I have to say from a stage. 

The problem is - sometimes I feel embarrassed. People feel awkward when I sing or when I am outgoing because they weren't raised the same. I feel embarrassed for others that something so small makes them feel awkward. Sometimes that music stays on the tip of my tongue and I keep my mouth shut. It kills me inside but I have to realize that not everyone is like me. But that's what makes me unique.

God broke the mold when he made me. He broke the mold after he made you too. Each and every one of us has been created so uniquely that we were meant to share in those differences, not made to feel strange or distant because of them. If God wanted robots or an army of clones - he would have made that. He could have made anything he wanted. But he chose to make each and every one of us different. 

I embrace my uniqueness- my differences. Can you?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Prized Possessions

I'm a reader and a writer and a full time book hoarder. Eek! I found a place today that buys used books - a resale shop nearby. But - when I called and asked what they were interested in, they said anything new within the last 6 months.... well I don't have that. But then she said they really pay out on anything newer than 20 years old. Well, I obviously have that. But then she told me some of my stuff may only be bought for 0.25 because they will put it on their clearance section for 0.50 straight away because they have an overabundance of it. Then my freak starts to come out....

What should I do? Should I sell my precious books? They hold such value to me! I read them once and then let them sit on my shelf and collect dust. They have been sitting there and I have been moving them around for years and I haven't picked them up to read them ...

I know - I know. The right answer is .. just get over it Julia. There really is no reason to hold onto something if you have no intention of using it again, reading it again, or especially not if it is just collecting dust. Now mind you, I have been a gem at purging everything in my life except my book collection. Over the years that has been the only thing that has really grown. And even if I did sell some books, I wouldn't be able to sell a lot or all of them. This is going to be the hardest sell I have ever had to make!

I do currently have a Moving Sale going on - I posted on craigs list as well as facebook. Some of the stuff includes:

Blue Love Seat

Kinetic PS2 workout game w/ Eye Toy

Mary Kay Product

PS2 Guitar Hero plus 2 Guitar Hero Games

Tungsten Size 7 Wedding Band

Davids Bridal Satin Halter Lace-up Back size 16 Wedding dress

5 Shelf Bookshelf

JBL Iphone/Ipod Docking Music Station

5 Shelf Media Shelf

I really have just come to the realization that I need to let go. I have done a really good job of this over the years, but I have held onto things that I really didn't need to and I have convinced myself that it was for my better good that I held on.

Now - I am letting go of these prized possessions... I am purging, selling, giving away, and moving on. Eek!

Change is hard, but it is good!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Dunkin not Drunkin...


As many of you know due to recent events (ie - illness and medication changes) I have been limited in my life and there have been changes made to my lifestyle. I would definitely say these changes are for the better. Tonight I made myself laugh a little. I was out of my little mugs for milk and I thought... what better way to put my wine glasses to use (since I'm not using them anymore). Let me tell you - I think wine glasses were made for dunkin! They have the perfect opening - big enough for the cookie and your hand ... big enough to dip ... you can swoosh your milk and make sure you get all the crumbs and don't loose any in the bottom. You have a rim to brush excess milk off the edge of your cookie and don't have to worry about dripping. I am telling you - made for each other!

It just made me think ... think about all the nights that I would fill that glass with wine and sit at home with my dinner and drink. I would excuse it away because it was just one glass with dinner. But over the course of time it became two glasses with dinner - or a glass when I walked in the door - or something different. At one point in my life it would be hard to not call myself an alcoholic. I really struggled with managing my alcohol intake, saying no, and walking away. The problem wasn't always did I drink every day or too often... the problem really was that when I did drink I drank enough to make up for all the days that I didn't drink at all.

There was this Saturday night I went out with some friends to downtown Naperville. We were just supposed to go out for a few drinks. I had to work in the morning and take care of a few things that night on the way home. I had responsibilities and people were depending on me. I met them downtown anyways. We started at one bar, drinking. Went to another bar, continued drinking. By the fourth or fifth bar I do not recall how many drinks I had or what I was meant to be doing. I remember going back to my friends house and crawling into bed because I was too tired to do anything else. My phone died. Nobody could get ahold of me. I missed work the next morning. I was sick as hell. My family was waiting for me and didn't know where I was.

It was Easter Sunday. I was supposed to set up the Easter baskets for the kids the night before. I had forgotten. Really, I had selfishly gone out and now was practically incapable. By the time I woke up and realized all that had happened, I crawled out of bed and to my car. I made my way to the store - miraculously. I had to pull to the side of the road a few times because I was so ill. I called my little sister from the grocery - my phone was dying - but I was still drunk and didn't know what I was doing. I had to ask her where I should go and what I should be getting. She walked me through the store over the phone. It was sad and depressing. I finally gathered up everything that I needed and headed to my parents house.

Again, I had to pull over a few times on the way there to get sick, but I finally made it. I was laid up on the floor with an Easter Basket to puck in for the next day. I almost lost my job and my entire family saw a side of me they had never seen before. I had alcohol poisoning. I was disgusted with myself. I swore I would be sober and I did well for a while, but that really did stick for very long.

Old habits die hard. It's not until something really comes and bites you in the butt like - oh hey maybe you should not drink or else you will have seizures and die... that has helped me at least. I know other people that even death didn't threaten them enough to keep them away and they did die.

I think about the risk involved and the damage .... then I think about my milk and cookies... and I weigh my options. Cheaper, more delicious and enjoyable, less damage to my body, and I can share and enjoy that treat with anyone! I have allowed myself the luxury of a possible drink a week... and I haven't partaken in that drink except twice since my limitations were placed upon me. I do think I enjoy my milk and cookies more.

So - I will be dunkin not drunkin and I think it's a great challenge for anyone - see how long you can take this challenge. Do you find yourself struggling with not saying no - not knowing when to stop - etc.... what would life look like if you didn't struggle with this at all?

writers block...

As I sit next to my computer I feel drawn to it - I just want to write and pour something out onto this page, but as I ponder on what to write I come back with nothing. I could write something personal. I could write something funny. I could write about my book I am working on. Or what is going on in my career right now. But I don't think any of that is interesting enough or compelling enough this morning.

I have always been a writer and writing has always been a natural thing for me. I can sit down at a computer or with a pad of paper and a pen and whip something up in no time. I pull words out of the clouds and things just flow together. I am not sure how exactly it all happens, but I guess it's just the way I am made. Some people have been frustrated with me at times because writing is something that comes natural for me but does not come natural to them. But even for someone like me there are times when I will sit in front of my screen for hours pondering where to begin and I will just not be able to come up with that first word or first sentence to begin it all. Everything banks on that. Once I can get that out then the rest will flow, but if I cannot get that out then nothing will happen.

I have a friend who is a writer and last semester he was severely discouraged from his dreams because of one professor and the outcome of a situation. I had a similar situation happen with me when I was at NIU for a semester which caused me to transfer to NEIU where I am now and will graduate from.

I had a professor who accused me of plagiarism - Now - as you all may know - that is just not the type of person that I am. First of all - I do not cheat. Second of all - I take writing very seriously and would never use anyone else's words as my own - nor would I need to do this.

Basically what happened was I used in classroom ideas discussed in one of my papers and he said that using someone else's ideas was plagiarism and he failed me in that class. The catch was that I also had him for another class and he chose to fail me in that class as well. So - I left NIU with 1 passing class. I decided to leave NIU because this was such a negative experience and I knew I would not be able to continue my passion there. He would have been able to block me from writing and becoming the person I knew I was meant to become. Coming to NEIU was by far the best decision I could have made for myself.

But - now that I am here I also faced some struggles with having to deal with the same professor that my friend had to deal with. He was unfair and unprofessional. He was not a good teacher and was extremely disorganized all the time. No matter our reviews he will continue to teach at the school - so we will all try to avoid him as best as possible, but this is not the whole point. My struggles where not complete here.

Near the end of the semester I received a letter from NEIU stating I would not be allowed to continue at their University in the fall. My transfer credits (1 passing class i transferred in) from NIU placed my GPA below their acceptable acceptance scores and I would have to petition to the board why they should allow me to stay a student at their University. I was completely broken. I knew at that moment someone was trying to keep me down. I would not have any of it. So I wrote the letter:




It took 6 weeks for a response to come - but I finally received that response and was told that I would be getting to stay at NEIU to complete my degree. I couldn't tell you how grateful I was and what a sense of relief I felt after hearing those words. I knew I needed to be back on the right page, but I didn't know what page that would be.... 

Sometimes we can be looking at our lives and just not know where to go or what to do. We can think about where things have gone and where things could possible go, but have no idea which direction to head in order to make that happen. I have been there and so has everyone else. I know there are times when I feel lost, blank, empty, staring out at my life like I find myself staring at a computer screen and I wonder ... 

Am I blocking myself from writing the next chapter in my life?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Directional Moving...

My lease is up in 2 months and I have been struggling with what to do and where to go.

Job = Park Ridge
School = Chicago
Church = Bloomingdale
Mission Students = Carol Stream
Chris = Hammond, IN
Family = Plainfield

I am generally pulled in a lot of different directions. I have moved every year or more frequently than every year for as long as I can remember. It was never a stressful or difficult decision. It generally was a fast, quick and easy decision. I haven't been able to put my finger on it yet but last night at dinner I was able to when I was talking with my brother. I have always had a direction - I have always been going somewhere with a purpose. This is the first time I am leaving for a reason, but not going somewhere ... so ... I am seeking a direction or a focus.

I have decided that I want my home to be close to where my life is but that is so difficult because my life is so spread out right now and it has never been this spread out before. I wish I could just ball it up in a close little space - that would be nice, but that time will come when things will hopefully come a little closer together.

For now... I have to figure things out... make a plan - what is that plan? Well... I have two months to figure it out before I am homeless... lol. So I guess we will see soon enough - maybe I will do something temporary that will allow me to really have the opportunity to have a roommate or a nicer place. We will see :)

I'm just waiting and praying for that direction because I have never been in this position before. All of this is new territory for me. Which is so crazy to think of because if I listed all the time I have moved in my life you would be blown away...

Roselle
Aurora
Plainfield
Downers Grove
Plainfield
Montgomery
Plainfield
Ohio
Montgomery
Romeoville
Woodridge
Aurora
Romeoville
Naperville
Romeoville
Lincoln
Romeoville - house
Romeoville - hotel
Effingham
Columbus - house
Columbus - church
Lincoln - Campus View Dr
Lincoln - Married Student housing
Woodridge

That's as far back as I can remember....  is 24 moves in 27 years too many? IDK - I guess the real question is .... is 16 moves in 9 years too many? I have always felt like I have been pulled in a direction - I never want to stray from that pull because I don't want to miss anything. I feel like I am restless... but I dont feel that pull in any direction....

so ... let's just see where life takes me...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Beggars

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people approach me asking for money. I'm sure this is against the law and or it rightfully should be - but a significant amount of people get away with it every day. 

What I don't understand is ....
1. Why do people fall for the schemes? 
2. Why do people give cash money? 
3. Why do people complain after they give? 
4. Why do the beggars get away? 

Today I was in line at the McDonald's drive thru to get a tea. A man approached my vehicle while I was in line- he came up to my drivers side window asking if I had money - telling me how he had run out of gas and needed money to get home. Now ... Of course I told him that I had no money and I pulled forward. When I got to the order screen I saw him approach the woman in the car behind me and she did hand him the money on her hand that she was going to make her purchase with. He continued to only approach vehicles with female drivers. I informed the girl that answered the speaker what was going on - she identified him and the color shirt he was wearing and continued to tell me he had been out there all day and she had been wondering what he'd been doing - 640pm and I was the first to say something... She let management know and they said they were going to take care of it. 

Now ... Could he have been telling the truth? Yes. Could he have called AAA, a tow truck or his insurance company to get gas? Yes. Could he have phoned a friend? Yes. Was he likely lying and scheming to prey on women and make some fast cash? Yes. 

I feel as if people like him give homeless people a bad rap/ or people who really are down and out and need a helping hand. As a society we have become detached and thwarted because we see beggars on the sides of roads or highway ramps - most of the time they try to look grungy but they forget to swap out their nice shoes ... Or their well cleaned teeth or manicured hands - it's hard for the people who need help to receive it when those that don't need it are begging for it and trying to steal it. 

Growing up in a large family with a low income we were the kids who got free or reduced lunch at school. We had food stamps or the link card. The wic program for the babies and public aid for health insurance. But we also lived on it. We took clothes as hand-mi-downs and we didn't take family vacations. We didn't have a house full of electronics or new cars to drive in. We had only what we needed and we were grateful for what we were blessed with. We partook in those programs because we needed them to help is survive. They put food on the table when otherwise we wouldn't eat and allowed us to seek medical attention when otherwise we wouldn't be able to. 

What kills me on the inside is to watch so many people take advantage of the system - begging the government for help that isn't really needed and robbing those people of the help they need because there isn't any funding left - or because there are too many people on the program now the plans are changing and care is being limited. 

I think it's hard for me because I see it from the other side- I see patients walk into eye dr offices - they have public aid and get their free eye exam and glasses and then they take out hundreds of dollars in cash and buy additional pairs of designer glasses - if they can afford the luxuries then they obviously are lying about their income to the government in order to get the financial aid to begin with. 

Ok - enough soap box for one night... 

I guess the big question is - when do you give and when do you not? 

If I'm in the city and someone claiming to be homeless says they are hungry and asks for money - I offer them food - if they decline I deem them not homeless or not honestly hungry. If they are true, homeless, and hungry they will take your offer of food - If they are just looking for alcohol drugs or cash they will deny you and keep going -

I never want to be the one who passes the wounded man - I want to be the Good Samaritan on the road to Jericho (Luke 10:25-37) ... It's just hard to decipher when is the right or wrong time to do this. 

When do you cave into a beggar? Or do you ever? 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Rejuvenation

I need to rejuvenate. Some days I feel absolutely empty. As if I am run by batteries and my battery light has been flashing 1% for a while. Any minute now I may crash or my screen may go blank and then what?

Why do we always wait till the very last minute to refresh and rejuvenate? Why do we wait till we are empty to find that fulfillment that we are lacking? 

We treat our gas tanks better than our own bodies most of the time- not allowing them to get to E in fear of damaging our vehicles. 

Should we not just continually refill, replenish, and rejuvenate as we go along? Shouldn't we be working on ourselves and making sure we are full so that we can fill others? Yet we continue to give everyone else everything we have even when there is nothing left to give. 

Today I took a half day at work. I realize when I walked I to work this morning that even with two more working days in the pay period I already have 71 hours ... Ummmm ..... Okay.... So - I decided to be selfish and take a long lunch and leave early. 

It's not often that I am selfish. It's not often I leave early or really take time away from work at all. Most people would call me a workaholic. I struggle with knowing when to stop giving to the man. 

But - today I decided that since I only have five more weeks of summer before school starts again and I have the weekend off for a change that I would take off early and start my weekend of R&R. 

I think it's extremely important for everyone to get some "me" time. Just some time away from all the responsibility and stress of life - just some time to relax where time doesn't matter and there are no alarms being set. Some people call them mini stay-cations. It's a vacation from life but you stay home and stay in.

This weekend I am going to enjoy the sun, the beautiful weather and plan nothing. 

When is your next stay-cation so you can give yourself some time to rejuvenate? 

Monday, July 8, 2013

It's like riding a bike....

Or is it? What a common saying we use all the time. "It's like riding a bike..." we say this to compare to something else we haven't done in a while in order to make someone feel like it will be an easy task to tackle because once you have learned to ride a bike you can just jump back on one at any time and know how to ride it again.....

So - this past weekend I went downtown with my brother, my BFF and her fiance. We were doing a lot of walking and my brother suggested renting these bikes they have in Chicago that you can pick up and drop off at different locations. They are low cost, convenient, and easy on your feet and body in general.



I'm not gonna lie - I was petrified. I tried to be a good sport about it - Well really I tried to persuade everyone against it... but I failed at that. So then we rented the bikes and I got on one and I couldn't even remember how to peddle... OMG! Can you believe that? It's the craziest concept. I thought "it's like riding a bike"?!??! Apparently that's not the case for me. I got yelled at by a cop because I pulled my bike over into the grass on the side of the sidewalk. Apparently you are also not allowed to "ride" in the park. Once I figured out the peddling thing - we took off for our riding adventure.

Oh boy - was it an adventure. At first I tried to Fred Flinstone it on the breaks - I forgot that I had a big kid bike that had handle breaks. Did I mention the last time I rode a bike I don't think I had handle breaks?! lol. Then there was the issue with starting back up again every time after we came to a stop. Red light, stop sign, sudden rush of people, cars coming at you, etc... I was very shaky in my start offs. I had a bike accident - I ran into the back of Matt's bike when he came to a stop at a red light one time. I almost hit a women when she came running out of a building - eek! But that really wasn't my fault because she came running out of a building.... right?! (Did I mention Matt was making us ride on the sidewalk? lol. There wasn't a bike lane on the road and I was scared of riding in the road without a bike lane)

Needless to say - we got around chi-city faster and had a blast doing it. It was scary and anxiety ridden, but it was fun and exciting. If nothing else it was definitely an unforgettable experience. I almost did not do it because I was going to allow my inexperience and my fear rule my decisions, but I am glad they forced me to it. I was able to really enjoy the city like I hadn't been able to before and I wasn't hurting as bad as I am sure I would have been if we had walked that entire pathway. I would love to do it again and would highly recommend anyone else to try it out as well! Let go and just live it up!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Friends, Acquaintance, or not....

I have a best friend - one that is irreplaceable. I have other friends of course, those that are near and dear to me, and I cherish those friendships as well. I do have acquaintances and coworkers - other people in my life that know of me, but don't really know me... you know what I mean. And then there are those people that you know and mingle with but don't really value the friendship you have or the relationship for that matter.

I wonder sometimes if I value friendship differently because I didn't have it growing up. I moved around a lot and was forced to start fresh many times. I always had to make new friends. While I was good at meeting new people and making new "friends", these people never really kept in touch and they weren't the type of people who valued friendship. I have multiple stories of people who called me a friend but who betrayed me. I have countless stories of people who called me a friend but who let me down multiple times, even though I continued to give them chance after chance because I wanted to believe that they were my friend as they said they were. I think sometimes people call you a friend because they enjoy spending time with you but they don't really value your friendship enough to travel hundreds or thousands of miles for you, or to drop everything to come to you, or to sacrifice anything for you.

I have friends that I would do these things for and that would do these things for me. Not out of duty or requirement but out of desire and love. Because we have such a strong connection and we value each other so greatly we long to see each other happy and satisfied. We want what is best for each other. We will drive all hours of the night or day - we will spend the waking days and nights on the phone - we will sit in silence, in tears, or in laughter on the couch - That is true friendship.

If you were to evaluate all the "friends" you have in your life right now - go through your phone, facebook, twitter, whatever - and just think about the people you talk to on a regular basis. When I say regular, I mean daily or weekly. You must talk to someone on a continuous enough basis that it doesn't take a catching up conversation every time you decide to talk again. You should always know what is important and going on in this persons life and it shouldn't be because you are following their newsfeed.... it should be because you are personally talking to this person and getting to know them on a deeper level.

Now think about why you have grown distant from all the people you thought you were once close with. Is it because of social media - because you catch up quickly on hundreds of peoples lives in a few minutes with quick glances at newsfeed, instead of taking the few minutes to phone a friend and check in once a week or a few times here and there. Is it because you have just allowed life to get far too busy for you that you have gotten lost in your own life? Caught up in everything you - you aren't allowing anyone else in? Do you wonder sometimes why it is that when you need someone nobody is there? Because you push everyone away or you make yourself unavailable. It is difficult for people to continually make themselves available to you if you are always unavailable as well - that goes for emotions as well!

Sometimes we think we are giving more than we are. We think we are giving someone what they need but we never check in, we just assume. There needs to be a friend check in every once in a while. We have to say - hey friend - how are you? How are things? Am I giving you what you need? Am I here for you? I am trying my best, but I know life can get away from us without even knowing it sometimes.

Lets try to be intentional about our relationships in our lives. What we value will reflect in who we are and what others see in us and our character. What we model for those around us and those who look up to us. More importantly - I want to be a great friend to a few people instead of trying to be an okay friend to a lot of people. I don't need to be popular. I don't need to have 1000's of friends. I just want to be the best friend I can be and I know I cannot be an incredible friend to a thousand people because I would be emotionally and mentally drained by the end of the day. So - I will value the friendships that I have while building others, but I will focus on intentionally building incredible friendships instead of forming acquaintances or nothing at all. I think connection is a phenomenal thing and God created human beings to connect with one another in such a way that we would be drawn to one another and it would be difficult to separate.

Lets value what we have and allow it to be what difficult to separate.