Wednesday, November 26, 2014

words cannot express how much i've missed writing lately.  when i do write, it doesn't feel organic.  doesn't flow like i want it to.  even now, before writing this post, i can feel that it will probably be stilted and simplified.  not at all what i want it to be.  BUT, i'm writing.  and that alone feels amazing.

this past weekend was so sweet that i have to write about it.  both Ethan and i had to work on Sunday, so we only had Friday evening and Saturday together, and gosh, we made the absolute best of it.

on Friday night, we drove out to Newport Beach to grab dinner at a gastropub.  we had missed each other so much during the previous week that i don't think we stopped smiling at each other the entire time.  we ordered beers and split a plate of jalapeno poppers and fried chicken and sang along to the country songs on the overhead speakers and talked about our work weeks.  

when we left the pub, the weather was cool and foggy, so we had no choice but to stop at our favorite place to grab some vanilla chais to-go.  and on the way home, we stopped by the record store to pick up a used Ellen Degeneres stand-up DVD, which we put in as soon as we got to my house, and fell asleep watching.

Saturday was absolutely magical, in my book.  our morning was most uneventful, save for sleeping in and making a huge breakfast.  in the late afternoon, Ethan drove us to one of our favorite little old 50's towns to grab dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, another gastropub.  the pub is quaint, with candles on the tables and seats IN the windows.  we grabbed window seats.  i sipped hard apple cider and Ethan a beer.  we split beer-battered chips and a shepard's pie, while soft acoustic music played overhead.  we reminisced about the year, about deployment, and talking about plans and dreams for the upcoming holidays, as the sun set in the streets.  being in that pub with him, sipping cider, eating comfort food, felt like an absolute dream.  it felt cozy and the fall i always dream about having in southern California.  it felt like home.

after our dinner, we bundled up to wander the streets.  we wandered through several antique shops, scouring for vintage Christmas decorations.  many of the shops were closed, which was fine by me, as it was just as dreamy to stop and admire the Christmas lights and wreaths and bows on the storefronts.  Ethan and i laughed and held each other's cold hands as we did this...and it was perfect.

i'll be honest and say that i've never liked the winter months.  i've always dreaded them.  they're dark and depressing and can feel a little bit lonely.  but our two evenings together made me fall in love with these months...cold foggy evenings and cozy pubs with hard apple cider and twinkly lights sparkling outside?  magical.  and we don't get much of that magic in southern California.  so it makes me appreciate it even more.

that being said, i feel so many different things about the upcoming holidays.  i am a little sad to see the fall season go.  i am excited for Christmas, but i'm sad to have to put away my baby pumpkins and Indian corn and fall wreaths.  time goes too fast, doesn't it?  it feels that way lately.  can't this season last just a little longer?

i can already feel Christmas slipping by.  yesterday marked a month until Christmas.  A MONTH.  ONE LOUSY MONTH.  i think it's even harder because i count that in weekends with Ethan.  4 weekends.  FOUR.  to enjoy Christmas.  it's just simply not enough.  it's even harder with my family being so far away.

it makes me understand why people get sad around the holidays.  there is so much pressure to have all this celebration...and i already feel like i'm missing it.  i also had the realization that Christmas can be very anti-climactic.  i went to the mall today to buy my favorite pine-tree scented candles (i have to stock up, so i can burn them year-round:)), and i realized that i was tempted to buy all these Christmasy things for such a short period of time.  i talked myself out of it, but when i wondered...what else am i supposed to do?  if i don't do all of this STUFF...then what?  

i don't want my Christmas to look full of pretty, exterior crap, and be lacking in sincerity and joy and truth.  so i prayed about it.  i prayed that i would forget all the extravagant bullshit and just focus on little celebrations.  making memories with Ethan on the few weekends we do have together.  crying at the same Christmas songs that i cry at every year.  i think i am just really scared that i won't feel Christmas at all.

BUT.  i'm trying not to get too ahead of myself.  my Christmas decorations box is out and ready to be unpacked.  Ethan and i have a 4-day weekend together, and i have all the plans.  maybe to get a Christmas tree?  or to watch some Christmas movies?  i'm hoping that it will be special - not because i'm trying to keep up with the Jones', but because of what this season means.  and i AM excited for all of it.  i hope it doesn't fly by, but that it lingers and that it lasts.

and in the meantime, my nails are a dark red, and my Thanksgiving outfit is out. :) i am excited for Thanksgiving.  for food and wine, for fellowship with Ethan's family, and for getting to be by Ethan's side, instead of thousands of miles away.  that, right there, is already so much to be thankful for.

Happy almost-Thanksgiving, everyone:)



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

catching up.

life has been all kinds of busy the past month.  Halloween came and went, and it was pretty sweet for a day i don't normally celebrate.  we had a party at work, and my team dressed up like the characters from the Wizard of Oz.  i was Dorothy, which was so magical!  we took lots of pictures, walked our paper "yellow brick road," and sang songs like, "The Wicked Witch is dead." ;) It was an awesome day.

in the evening, Ethan came over and, together, we handed out candy to the trick-or-treaters, made + ate pumpkin pie while watching The Office and drinking spiked cider.  it was the perfect Halloween.

i'm the second-in-command for our volunteer committee at work, and our company was running a booth at the Walk to End Alzheimer's the morning after Halloween.  so, Ethan and i were up before the sunrise to go to the beach and help set up + run the booth.  it ended up being SUCH a good time!  the morning started off freezing and windy, but we got to see the most amazing sunrise over the ocean.  hands down, one of the most beautiful things i've ever seen.  and of course, pictures couldn't even capture how amazing it was.

a short while later, the clouds moved in and it poured and poured, but the rain was followed by several double rainbows, which was just magical.  they were the biggest, most vibrant rainbows i had ever seen.

during a short break, Ethan and i headed down to the water, where we spent a little time seashell-combing and bird-watching.  on top of all that, i pretty much got to run our work booth which was a blast.  i got to talk to all kinds of different people about our company.  i'm normally an introvert by nature, but put me behind a booth, and i'm unstoppable;)

only a few short hours after the walk, i drove Ethan out to the Greek Theater in LA to see one of his favorite blues artists, Gary Clark Jr., as a belated birthday gift.

Ethan drank a couple beers, i had a mojito, we got free ice cream, and we had an amazing time dancing in our seats to some amazing music.

the following weekend, we each got a little extra time off for Veteran's Day, so we took a little trip up to San Luis Obispo on Friday, which was fun + exhausting.  we spent our one night there out on the town.  we had a long, relaxing dinner, browsed some boutiques, splurged on some chocolate, and ended the night at crowded bar, where we grabbed beers and talked and talked and talked.

i think that was, honestly, my favorite part of the trip.  Ethan and i rarely ever go out past 8pm, and spend most of our evenings at my house, watching movies.  But being out on the town, talking over loud music and between slow sips of beer, with nowhere to be but with each other?  Perfection.  It made me feel young and alive and in love.  and what's better than that?

the evening ended with us hopping in our enormous hotel hot tub, with the full moon shining brightly above us.

the next morning was equally sweet.  we went back downtown for breakfast burritos and lattes at a little cafe.  we sat outside and spent a couple more hours just talking...about our dreams and traveling and our future.  it was one of those slow, easy Saturday mornings, where everything just feel simple and right.  after breakfast, we browsed some more shops before hopping back in Ethan's truck to take the long drive back home.

the rest of the weekend was low-key, save for a couple hours to see Bill Wiese, author of 27 Minutes in Hell, speak at Ethan's sister's church.  even though i had seen him speak once before, it was still a mind-blowing reminder of things that are so easily forgotten.  Ethan and i both really enjoyed it, and we had some challenging discussions in the car ride back to my house.


in the meantime, daily life has been busy.  i just had 3 midterms and a research paper, and now, i am pushing through the last couple weeks of the semester to get to my winter break.  i am particularly worried about math, as i failed this same class over the summer, but i am hoping for the best.  and the deadline to apply to transfer to universities is coming up this weekend, so i'm a little nervous about that too.

other life stuff has included getting my car worked on and trying to get back into the gym.  work has also been crazy busy with preparing for our Christmas Giving Project.  we've adopted a family through a local organization and putting together the project so far has been a blast.  we are doing an "Angel Tree" theme, so i've spent the last handful of days helping decorate the tree and our lobby, creating flyers and sending out emails, and making gift wish lists and angels to put on our tree.  it's been busy and tiring, but also, very fun.  it makes the upcoming holidays feel much more real and special than in the year's past. :)

additionally, i recently had an appointment with a neurologist to follow-up on my seizure.  She had an EEG done on me, suspecting that my brain activity would be "abnormal" and show signs of a generalized seizure disorder -- more specifically, Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy.  In her follow-up, she said the EEG confirmed her suspicions, and that she recommends i start taking anti-seizure medication.

it's been a couple weeks since my appointment, and the news still hasn't sunk in yet.  i'm not sure it ever will.  i've talked things over with family and friends, emailed the doctor all my questions, and still haven't made any decisions about whether or not i am going to start taking medication that i may have to be on for the rest of my life.  part of me is afraid that, maybe, medication is unnecessary, and i shouldn't jump to start pumping chemicals into my body.  the other part of me wonders if it IS necessary, and thinks that taking medication will only make it more real, more permanent.  for now, it kind of feels surreal.  like it's something that's happening to someone else...and not me.  so, i'm waiting.  it is scary to move forward in the direction of taking medication.  and it is also scary to just stay here, thinking another one could happen at anytime.  i have to think that fear will drive me to taking medication, but i'm not sure i'm quite ready to go there yet.

that's what i got for now, folks<3  there's always more to write, but i'll save more for later;)

sweet dreams,

Sunday, October 26, 2014

some things.

it's gloomy outside today, for the first time in a handful of days, and that make me feel like writing.

i SHOULD be doing math homework, but hey...i gotta have priorities;)

since my seizure, it feels like a lot has happened.  i started supplements to help with my anxiety.  i visited my dr. who made me an appointment to see a neurologist in a couple weeks, and who also gave me a list of stretches to help my back which was injured during my seizure.  because of my back, i can't do normal work outs, which is extremely frustrating, so i've been scouring YouTube for any specialty workouts i can do.  in the meantime, i've been working on bringing peace into my life...i'm taking more bubble baths, i bought a fresh skein of pretty mustard-yellow yarn to make myself a scarf, and i've been listening to newly downloaded Hillsong music nonstop.  the past couple weekends, Ethan and i have gone out to coffee dates, been antiquing, cooked meals together, made hot cider with rum, played Sonic the Hedgehog, and talked and laughed and enjoyed each other's company.

i've also been listening to sermons my friend, Aaron, has been sending me, and those have been helping so much.  here are the notes from one of my favorite ones:

-- Each of us have so many decisions available to us, but having so many decisions makes us overwhelmed and afraid…and FEAR PARALYZES US.
 -- We plan too much, and have MORE FAITH/depend too much on the plan than we have faith and depend on God.
-- Other people will have their own "will" for your life, but we need to REST UNDER GOD'S CLOUD: MOVE WHEN HE MOVES, REST WHEN HE RESTS.
-- We are too worried with the specifics of the "plan," instead of letting the life unfold as it should.
-- Following God puts my plans at risk.
-- We don't need to track down God's will...He will reveal himself to us.
-- Be brave<3 it doesn't come naturally.  it will take courage.
Back in 2009, i read a devotional that talked about the Israelites in the desert, and God's cloud that hovered over them.  When His cloud moved, they moved, and when the cloud rested, they rested.  That has stuck with me in a deep way ever since because i have such a tendency to want to move and plan on my own terms, instead of resting under God's cloud.  There are so many parts of that story that stand out to me, but as i think about it this morning, i am struck by the thought that the Israelites did not have very much...but they had what they needed because God PROVIDED FOR THEM.  why don't i rest in the knowledge that God is providing for me right here, right now?
talking with my mom this past week made me realize that i am angry and crippled by comparison because i see all these other people around me doing really great things, like starting organizations and writing powerful books and making a difference in the world.  these people have goals and they move toward them in big ways.  it's not that i don't have goals; it's just that i don't have any BIG goals.  i mean, my ultimate goals are to be a counselor and get married and have babies and have lots of animals and a garden on a big piece of land, and live near all our family and friends and have dinner parties and go hiking and drink coffee around the kitchen table and love God and make MEMORIES together.
there IS a part of me that wants to be a missionary or write a book that moves people or starts a world-shaking organization, but at the end of the day, i am just trying to work and get through school and make sure all my relationships are taken care of.  long-distance means that i spend many hours on the phone each week with all of the people i love.  and that's really important to me.  but it makes me feel inadequate because i'm not that driven person.  in all reality, while i want to do something important, the sound of most things exhaust me and don't feel like where i'm supposed to be.  so i'm constantly searching, running my internal hamster wheel, looking for things i "should" be doing, trying to find a place where i fit.  and it just ends up getting me lost and stuck and discouraged.  so, i guess i'm just stuck right now.  waiting under God's cloud.  i have to learn to trust because, at the end of the day, i have no other options.  no matter how much i try to force it, my way DOES. NOT. WORK.  and at the end of the day, i am looking to find my identity in what i do and how people put their approval stamp on my life.  and that will always be a failing endeavor.  to place my identity in anything other than Him means i'm not focusing on what is LASTING and ETERNAL.  last week, i texted a friend about how God is our ROCK -- we have to build our lives on because everything else erodes, everything fades away…but He doesn’t.  He is firm, steady, unchanging, unable to be moved.  even though God gave that to me to give to them, i think He was giving it to me, too.

i've also been listening to sermons my friend, Aaron, has been sending me, and those have been helping so much.  here are the notes from one of my favorite ones:
in this moment, things feel good.  the sky is beautiful outside, there is coffee to my right, along with a pretty, fresh notebook where i am now going to attempt to do math homework. :P relationship with friends and family are sweet.  work and paychecks are steady, food is in the fridge, and God is patient and steady.

and in the meantime, these are my favorite lyrics from my favorite song right now:

Break down our pride,And all the wallsWe've built up inside,Our earthly crownsAnd all our desires,We lay at Your feet.
So let hope rise,And darkness tremble in Your holy light,And every eye will seeJesus, our God,Great and mighty to be praised.
God of all days,Glorious in all of Your ways.Your majesty, the wonder and grace,In the light of Your name.
Our hearts will cryBe glorified,Be lifted high above all.
For You our King,With everything,We will shout forth your praise.